Local builders are tipping a glut of motherboards brought about by processor refreshes will make it a rocky road for PC sellers as they approach the Christmas season. Their views tie into a recent investment firm report which cited a 20 per cent decline in motherboards orders from whitebox manufacturers in late October.
Goldman Sachs (Asia) executive director of technology research, Henry King, claimed desktop motherboard demand was weak. This aligned with the firm's view that Microsoft's forthcoming Vista operating system has had a negative impact on the fourth quarter. Increased demand for laptops, along with Intel and AMD's push on dual-core chips, had also impacted sales.
"When Intel released the Core2Duo it meant a complete refresh of chipsets," Altech national sales manager, Kevin Hartin, said. "Processors supporting the Intel 915 chipset are drying up along with demand for the older technology and motherboard manufacturers have a backlog, which is what Goldman Sachs is seeing."
AMD's corresponding move to the AM2 processor had also seen an oversupply of AMD 939 motherboards on the market, Hartin said. In an attempt to clear its own backlogs, Altech was already savagely discounting its prices.
"To entice people into the old technology, we've got quite a few discounts hitting the market," he said. "We still have products we have to move and we have to be aggressive with pricing."
Protac International boss, Gary Jeng, said the sag in motherboard demand hadn't happened overnight.
"In Australia, consumption among local builders was around 200,000 per month in 2002 and is around 60,000 today in 2006," he said.
Jeng suggested multinational vendors had been slowly eroding the whitebox market for years, resulting in the decline in motherboard orders. Increased demand for laptop motherboards was also pushing down demand for their desktop cousins, he said.
Synnex product manager of system integration, Jason Lee, agreed laptop demand was slowing desktop supply and demand. The company would look to revamp its desktop line-up next year with mobile processors and motherboards.
"Since the beginning of the year, notebook has been a growing market," he said. "Next year we will be looking at putting mobile on the desktop in smaller form factors that are about as big as a DVD box and 3/4 as thick as the Yellow Pages."
All the local builders took issue with Goldman Sachs' assessment that Windows Vista would stymie sales over the next two months.
"If anything, Vista is actually helping us to sell higher end components like video cards and twice as much memory," Hartin said. "1GB is the minimum memory for Vista. I haven't tested it with 2GB but I'm told it runs better with 2GB."
Jeng said Vista was not the real problem over the next couple of months.
"It's Dell, HP and Acer all cutting prices that continues to take real market share from clone makers," he said.