Acer slips down the charts

Acer slips down the charts

Acer's reign at the top of the notebook charts has been short-lived. The vendor toppled into third place behind HP and Toshiba, according to the IDC's latest figures for Q3.

Acer's share of the notebook market fell from 20.7 per cent in Q2 to 17.6 per cent, IDC said. HP (21.1 per cent) took the top spot, while Toshiba (17.8) edged into second.

Acer leapt from fourth to first in Q2 following the release of its first sub-$1000 notebook, the Extensa 2350.

IDC hardware analyst, Mike Sager, said its decline in Q3 was directly related to the drop in shipments of the lower priced products.

The analyst firm reported 12,000-15,000 sub-$1000 notebook units were shipped in Q3, down from 25,000-30,000 during the previous quarter.

An influx of similarly priced notebooks from Lenovo, Dell and HP also contributed to Acer's rankings slide, he said.

"Acer shot up to the top spot, but it's hard to retain that position," he said. "It's difficult to know how well they will go. They would have to win some tenders, get new channel partners and try and eat away somebody else's share. That's a hard thing to do."

The sub-$1000 price point introduced an entirely new category to the notebook market, surpassing analyst expectations and making significant sales via non-traditional reseller channels such as Big W and Office Works. Acer's marketshare also nearly doubled over the course of a year.

Acer marketing director, Raymond Vardenega, played down the rankings drop, claiming the vendor's plans for long-term growth and to be number one in the notebook market by the end of 2007 were still intact.

"That price [sub-$1000] breakthrough unleashed a dam of unfulfilled demand locally," he said.

"There was a swell associated with that, but now we have fallen back to normalised demand for this type of product.

"We had the opportunity and we took it and made a huge success of it. Although we have dropped back, we were originally fourth, and now we are third. It's more about the fundamentals being right, rather than having a lot of tactical success."

Vardenega said the advent of Intel's Napa mobility platform, along with the Viiv digital home solution and Broadwater chipset for commercial PCs were new technology inflexion points that would give Acer the means to grow its business in 2006.

But Sager warned the Australian notebook market was overcrowded.

"Notebook sales were good for so long that they attracted new competition," he said. "But the pie doesn't get any bigger, and vendors still have to meet targets.

"The new vendors have had almost a year to find where they sit. For those who have a good channel set up, it's starting to pay off. We are also seeing the stragglers falling off."

Sager pointed to Samsung and Fujitsu as two multinational brands that were struggling to crawl up the list. Local whitebook builders were also suffering because they were unable to uphold the economies of scale maintained by international vendors, he said. By comparison, BenQ, Asus and LG held their positions.

It was competitive in all spaces and every price point, Vardenega said.

"The notebook market is certainly crowded," he said. "Desktop was crowded originally too. Once the growth flattens out, people leave the segment. It will taper off as growth slows."

While Q3 was traditionally the weakest quarter for sales over the year, IDC found shipments had increased by 42 per cent compared to the same period in 2004. Q4 was also shaping up to be a strong one.

Sager predicted sales would meet IDC's forecast 15 per cent quarter-on-quarter growth. This represented 50 per cent overall year-on-year growth. For the first time, consumer notebook sales are also expected to beat desktop systems during Q4.

By the end of the year, the local industry would have shipped about 1.25 million units, he said.

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