Despite the efforts of industry giant, Intel, to push consumers towards built-to-order (BTO) whitebooks, the market remains relatively niche, according to local builders.
Competition from multinationals is intense, particularly at the low-end of the market, where local players are facing stiff competition from HP, Acer and Lenovo.
"Up until 2005 we were selling 2000 notebooks a month, and then the name brands started a price war," Protac International MD, Gary Jeng, said. "That hurt our business a lot and we have dropped to less than 1000 a month.
"We've actually started carrying more items in the middle and high-end to differentiate ourselves. We just can't compete at the low-end."
Intel opened www.btonotebook.com.au late last year, promoting the benefits of a BTO whitebook and listing local companies which build them.
Bluechip Infotech managing director, Johnson Hsiung, said it was also finding multinational competition tough for its line of BTO whitebooks.
"I know Intel is pushing [BTO whitebooks], but our experience is that end-users have too many brand names to choose from and it's really hard to sell against them," he said. "We do have some resellers with a specific need for BTO, but it's not a mainstream market for us."
Hsiung said customised whitebooks made up less than 25 per cent of Bluechip's total notebook sales.
One local builder embracing Intel's BTO manifesto is Pioneer Computers Australia, which has just completed a 10 month, co-development of an online whitebook configurator for dealers. Claiming the configurator as a first for local whitebook vendors, Pioneer Computers managing director, Jeff Li, said the engine could be rebranded and built into any of its dealer web sites.
"At the moment only Dell has a similar tool. But the big difference is that, unlike the 1-3 per cent dealers make on selling multinational brands, our dealers will make 10 - 20 per cent margin," he said. "We are looking to increase our sales [using the configurator] by 30 per cent."
A spokesperson for Victoria-based distributor, Synnex, said it was also preparing a whitebook configurator which was due this month. The move was part of an increased focus on notebooks in general.
The distributor also carries notebooks from multinationals such as HP and Lenovo.