Vendors slug it out in tough mobile market

Vendors slug it out in tough mobile market

Although conceding that there is a worldwide shortage of TFT screens, Compaq has denied suggestions by arch-rival Toshiba that the problem was affecting only vendors other than Toshiba or forcing Compaq customers to migrate to the competition.

Compaq's portable product manager, Chee-Mei Ghan, said Compaq had had some shortages in some of its ranges, specifically its Armada 7400 early in Q3, but these `had been contained'.

Ghan suggested it was manufacturers' desire to move away from 13.3 inch screens, which didn't have a good yield ratio, that prompted some of the shortages.

`We simply moved to 14.1 and 12.1 inch screens so we currently have no shortages,' she said.

Mark Whittard, Toshiba's national marketing manager, suggested that the size of Toshiba's mobile operations compared to its competitors meant it had overcome any supply problems, but companies like Compaq and Hewlett-Packard were only just beginning to feel the brunt of international shortages (ARN, November 10, page 18).

He went on to say that Compaq and Dell customers were migrating to Toshiba because of supply problems.

Ghan vehemently denies this state of affairs, admitting that there is a general shortage of TFT screens in the industry, but `curiously stock shortages have not reached the marketplace yet'.

Yet according to notebook reseller Applied Micro Systems' general manager, Shane Taylor, the assertion that supply issues had not filtered down to the market was incorrect. He has experienced problems across the ranges of Toshiba, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard and IBM to such an extent that it has affected his company's bottom line.

Whittard's claim of Toshiba being the only survivor of the shortages is undermined by IDC data released last week that showed Toshiba is actually losing market share in its traditional stronghold, with its ownership of the mobile market reduced from 31.8 per cent in the first quarter to 28.5 per cent in Q3.

In comparison Compaq has increased its market share to 18 per cent, and according to Ghan aims to be the number one mobile vendor by 2001. `It's definitely achievable and the market in general is growing well,' she said.

With Ghan and IDC predicting shortages to continue well into the year 2000 the Compaq manager believes success will depend on `forecasting skills', though she would not comment on whether Compaq forecasts were lower to accommodate supply and demand issues.

She said Compaq's mobile division was well poised for a good fourth quarter.

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