Tag: acer

Notebook display panel shipments down, down, down

dell-latitude-7000-330pxShipments of LCD panels for notebooks dropped 23 percent in July year-on-year, according to new data from IHS. Eight out of the nine leading PC vendors cut their LCD shipments and total shipments were just 1.49 million units, down from 19.3 million in July 2012. Worse, shipments were down 18 percent sequentially.

The sharp drop can be in part attributed to seasonal trends, but there were a few other factors as well. Demand for new Haswell-based deigns remains soft and the fact that many people are still waiting for Windows 8.1 did not help, either. All this resulted in some inventory problems.

“Notebook brands during the third quarter typically increase their purchases of LCD panels as they prepare to launch new mobile PC models for the second half of the year,” said Ricky Park, senior manager for large-area displays at IHS. “However, many key brands this year have accumulated large panel inventory surpluses because of weak sales in the first half. This has caused them to reduce purchases in July, leading to major declines in notebook PC panel market shipments both on a sequential and an annual basis.”

Many notebook makers are still sitting on heaps of old displays and they are clearly having a hard time getting rid of them. Acer’s panel orders dropped 53 percent in June, Toshiba was down 43 percent and even mighty Lenovo experienced a 35 percent drop. It did not get any better in July.

IHS expects to see some positive figures in August, as the market should return to sequential growth, but on-year figures won’t look good.

Acer’s Shih declares doom for Wintel alliance

shihceAcer founder Stan Shih has turned on the Microsoft-Intel alliance, claiming that its PC empire will eventually fail because management is too greedy.

Speaking at a Taipei media conference, Shih said Wintel is doomed because both Microsoft and Intel keep too high a share of the profits for themselves, leading other players towards emerging rivals like Google’s ecosystem.

Shih claimed the Wintel alliance is no longer profitable for partners, and IT players are increasingly turning elsewhere. He said it wasn’t Google’s open platform driving companies to its ecosystem, suggesting instead it was a systemic flaw with Microsoft and Intel themselves.

He compared Google’s platform to Linux. Although the latter is open, it has not been driving similar adoption rates. The key here is profit, which Google understands.

For Taiwan’s technology sector, Shih believes that more investment needs to go into arts, software and technologies, to keep one of the country’s top economic drivers healthy.

Microsoft’s Nokia buy could have been the correct choice, Shih added, as long as the deal leads to value for companies, shareholders, consumers and partners. He refused to comment on rumours that Acer may be for sale, although earlier he admitted he’s neutral about the idea, Digitimes reports.

Notebook shipments ramp in rollercoaster ride

ancient-laptopNotebook shipments appear to be recovering, albeit slightly, after several consecutive quarters of unparalleled awfulness. We are quite used to hideous numbers by now, but Digitimes Research  is reporting that notebook shipments of the top five brands grew by 22 percent, while the top three ODMs saw 11 percent of growth in August, compared to July.

HP saw the most growth, up 50 percent, while Lenovo and Acer saw their shipments grow by 25 and 20 percent respectively. Asus shipments dropped, while Dell’s appear to be stagnating.

Wistron outperformed other ODMs with 20 percent on-month growth in August, thanks to strong shipments from HP and Lenovo. Quanta and Inventec grew by more than 10 percent, Compal was saw some single-digit growth, while Pegatron’s shipments dropped due to lower orders from Asus.

A word of caution is advised. The upsurge has a lot more to do with seasonal trends than actual end-user demand. The notebook market still remains very weak and soft demand is expected over the next few quarters, if not years.

Acer denies merger rumours

acer-logo-ceAcer has shot down rumours of a possible merger with Asus or Lenovo. The rumours originated in some Asian outlets, which claimed that certain investment banks planned to invite Lenovo or Asus to merge with Acer.

Acer said it was not contacted by any investment bank with such a proposal and that wouldn’t be interested anyway, reports Digitimes. It’s easy to see why such a rumour would take off. Acer is in trouble like most PC vendors, except Lenovo. Consolidation might be the next step for some vendors, but Acer insists it will soldier on alone.

The company says it reforming and that it’s confident its brand and business can weather the storm. However, recent sales figures indicate that both Acer and Asus suffered the biggest drop in PC sales this year compared to other PC outfits.

Acer is down, but it’s not out. It still builds some interesting PCs and its aggressively pursuing tablet and smartphone markets, although they are already saturated and as a result it is bound to face stiff competition in all emerging segments.

Apple and Samsung lose ground on tablets

cheap-tabletsApple is losing ground on the tablet market, due to a drought of new products and more competition from the Android camp. However, Samsung is not capitalising on Apple’s woes and its sales are dropping as well.

According to Strategy Analytics, Apple sold just 14.6 million iPads last quarter, down 4.9 million from Q1. Its market share tumbled from 40.4 percent to 29.2 percent. Meanwhile its arch nemesis Samsung also suffered a hit. Its sales dropped by 700,000 units to 8.4 million units and its market share now stands at 8.4 percent.

Another report from Analysys claims that tablet sales in China aren’t growing nearly as rapidly as they did just a few months ago. Last quarter China gobbled up 3.58 million tablets, growing just 5.2 percent over the first quarter of 2013. Sales of Apple’s iPads were particularly hard hit, the research outfit reported.

Relative newcomers to the market like Acer, Lenovo, Sony and Dell are gaining ground. LG is gearing up to give tablets another go, following a dismal effort a couple of years ago. Then there are Chinese white-box tablets, heaps and heaps of them.

However, Cupertino’s troubles might be a thing of the past come Q4. The Church of Apple is widely expected to introduce new iPads as soon as next month and the hot iPad mini should get a Retina makeover. Apple’s current tablet offerings are showing signs of age and an update is overdue.

On the other hand, there’s really not that much hype this time around, iPads aren’t as fresh and cool as they used to be and getting people to upgrade from an iPad 3 or 4 won’t be as easy. They both have relatively speedy chips and a crisp high-resolution screen, so Apple will have to get creative, and it’s been faltering on that front for the last two or so years.

The iPad mini though desperately needs a sharper screen and a faster processor and a new high-res model should do very well indeed.

Tough times ahead for notebook ODMs

ancient-laptopSoft demand for notebook PCs and the relentless tablet juggernaut will continue to drag down shipments of Taiwanese ODMs in the current quarter and beyond, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The bank said the outlook for the second half of 2013 remains challenging.

Shipments are expected to grow at a rate of two to three percent, which is very bad news for Acer and Asus. According to analysts, both companies suffered a 40+ percent plunge in unit sales last quarter in the European market. BoA Merrill Lynch said Acer and Asus are suffering from the rise of cheap tablets. Ironically, Asus was one of the pioneers in the Android tablet space and it produces Google’s 7-inch Nexus tablets, but it appears that more and more people are simply turning to even cheaper, white-box tablets.

Analyst Robert Cheng wrote in a note that Acer is likely to see losses over the next four quarter. He did not have many kind words for Asus, either.

“Asustek looks relatively fine, but notebook guidance is quite weak,” he said. Cheng added that Asustek’s “product mix” will become worse in the second half of the year.

As for contract manufacturers, Compal and Wistron should stay flat in the third quarter, while Quanta and Inventec still expect growth. Pegatron will get the worst of it. It is expected to lose some share and client orders, hence its notebook shipments will drop by 5 to 10 percent this quarter.

Acer wants to grow Chromebook, Android business

acer-logo-ceAcer has committed the ultimate act of Windows heresy – it wants to expand its presence in the Chromebook and Android space. The shift was revealed by Acer president Jim Wang during the company’s latest conference call.

“We are trying to grow our non-Windows business as soon as possible. Android is very popular in smartphones and dominant in tablets…I also see a new market there for Chromebooks,” said Wang.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Wong expects Android and Chromebooks to account for 10 to 12 percent of Acer’s revenue this year. However, that figure could rise to a whopping 30 percent next year. At the moment, Chromebooks account for about three percent of Acer’s shipments.

Yesterday it emerged that Acer suffered a massive drop in EMEA shipments last quarter. It took a 44.7 percent hit compared to Q2 2012. With that in mind, it is abundantly clear why Acer is trying to tap other markets.

Over the past two years most PC makers, including Acer, tried to enter the Android tablet market and they don’t have much to show for it. Windows tablets are still dead in the water and earlier this week Acer slashed the price of its relatively new W3 Windows by 20 percent.

It appears that Chromebooks will be Acer’s next bet, as the Chromebook market is not nearly as saturated as the tablet market. However, Chromebooks also lack the mass consumer appeal of cheap and fun tablets.

Acer’s Win8 tab price slashed

acer-w3Acer has decided to cut the price of its first Windows 8 tablet by over 20 percent, despite the fact that it was launched less than two months ago. Things can’t be going well when a brand new product has its price slashed in a matter of weeks, but this is hardly Acer’s fault.

The Acer Iconia W3 tablet will now sell for $299 for the entry level 32GB model in the US, which is a nice $80 discount over the original list price. Acer said the cut would be applied in other markets as well, reports Focus Taiwan. Granted the W3 is a rather odd device. Most consumers associate Windows 8 with big, elaborate and  overpriced tablets or hybrids, but the W3 is a cheap 8-incher.

In any case this does not bode well for Redmond. Over the weekend it cut the Surface Pro price by $100 and a couple of weeks ago it also gave the doomed Surface RT a 30-percent haircut. It is clearly not going well and Acer’s decision is just the icing on the cake.

What’s more, Microsoft’s own cuts came a few months after the launch, while Acer decided to slash the price of a brand new device which is still rolling out in some markets. Last month it was rumoured that Acer would replace the W3 in September, after just three months on the market.  If this is indicative of a wider trend, and that appears to be the case, we have to wonder why vendors would even bother with Windows 8 tablets?

Analysts estimate that a total of 1.8 million Windows tablets were shipped in the second quarter, giving both Microsoft’s tablet operating systems a combined market share of 4 percent.

Tablet shipments slow right down

cheap-tabletsThe tablet market appears to be overheating and according to IDC’s latest report global shipments slowed down in the second quarter. It appears that many consumers are waiting for new iPads and cheap Androids are not filling the gap.

IDC said unit sales dropped 9.7 percent to 45.1 million last quarter thanks to soft demand for iPads. Shipments of Apple’s tablets dropped to just 14.6 million units, down from 19.5 million in the first quarter. IDC’s original forecast was 17 million, but it appears consumers had other things in mind.

Despite the dip, Apple is still the daddy of the tablet market, with a 32.4 percent market share. For some reason Samsung managed to grab an 18-percent share, despite the fact that its tablets are overpriced and underspecced.

Thanks to its massive market share, Apple’s woes tend to have an immediate effect on overall unit sales. The trouble for Apple is that it simply does not have any fresh products to offer. The iPad and iPad mini are getting old and a refresh is expected over the next few of months. Consumers are simply putting off their purchases until Cupertino rolls out something new, i.e. a Retina iPad mini.

“A new iPad launch always piques consumer interest in the tablet category and traditionally that has helped both Apple and its competitors,” said Tom Mainelli, Research Director, Tablets at IDC. “With no new iPads, the market slowed for many vendors, and that’s likely to continue into the third quarter. However, by the fourth quarter we expect new products from Apple, Amazon, and others to drive impressive growth in the market.”

A long Apple drought seems to be just what the doctor ordered for makers of Android tablets, but they don’t appear to be capitalizing on iPad fatigue.

Asus shipped just 2 million units for a 4.5 percent share. Lenovo was in a close second with 1.5 million units and Acer is in hot pursuit with 1.4 million.

To be fair, Android peddlers also had their share of problems. New high-end designs based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 have yet to materialize, Nvidia’s Tegra 4 was delayed and the first products have started shipping just a few days ago, at the very end of the second quarter. The new Nexus 7 is out, but it also launched too late to make a mark in Q2.

However, IDC believes new tablets from both camps should have a massive effect on shipments toward the end of the year. As for Windows RT and Windows 8.x tablets, we’re not sure they’ll make much headway this year.

ODM laptop shipments rebound, up 0.4 percent

ancient-laptopWorldwide shipments of laptops in the second quarter reached 39.4 million units, up 0.4 percent over the first quarter, according to WitsView. It doesn’t sound like much, and it isn’t, but given the state of the PC market any hint of growth is an encouraging sign.

Although overall shipments are up, the nine leading laptop makers saw an 0.7 percent decline quarter-on-quarter, which was caused by inventory problems. New designs based on Intel Haswell chips are coming online and big brands are apparently not getting rid of Ivy Bridge models fast enough.

Hewlett Packard had a good quarter, shipping 7 million units, up 10 percent from Q1, while Lenovo shipped 6.3 million units and stayed relatively flat. Acer and Asus dropped 0.2 and 1 percent respectively, while Toshiba had a terrible quarter, ending with a 12.6 percent slump.

Researchers noted that the market started to slow down in June, as consumers held back on purchases and decided to wait for Haswell products. However, the Haswell rollout was hampered by inventory issues, as manufacturers could not liquidate their Ivy Bridge stock in time. It was basically a vicious circle.

WitsView reckons the market could start to recover in the second half of the year, due to seasonal trends. If all goes well, Q3 laptop shipments could grow seven to nine percent. Sales by second- and third-tier brands are also expected to go up.

iPad market share at an all-time low

cheap-tabletsApple’s share of the tablet market appears to be at an all-time low, thanks to strong competition from cheap and cheerful Android tablets.

Despite the slump, Apple still remains the biggest player in the tablet market, but it is no longer the only outfit in town.

According to Trend Force, iPad sales dipped from 17 million to 14.6 million units last quarter. It ended the quarter with a 35.5 percent market share. Samsung ranked second with 8.8 million units and a 21.4 percent share. This is rather surprising, since Samsung’s tablets tend to be overpriced and overhyped.

Asus wound up in a distant third spot, with shipments of 1.6 million and a 3.9 percent market share. Acer wasn’t far behind, with 1.5 million units and a 3.6 percent share. Amazon ranked fifth with 1.1 million units and a 2.7 percent share.

Microsoft and Google in next, at 0.9 million and 0.7 million respectively and the figures are surprising to say the least. Google’s Nexus 7 was supposed to be a cheap, high volume device, but it seems it was outpaced even by Microsoft’s Surface tablets.

It should be noted that Apple is gearing up to introduce the fifth generation iPad and the second generation iPad mini. It current line-up is rather dated and the new iPads could turn things around. Google introduced the new Nexus 7 last week and it is getting some very positive reviews as we speak.

However, we believe the most interesting number in the report has nothing to do with Apple, Samsung or Google. Makers of white-box tablets sipped 9.7 million units last quarter, for a combined market share of 23.5% percent. In other words for every Surface RT or Nexus 7 tablet sold last quarter, nameless Chinese manufacturers sold ten of their equally nameless tablets.

EMEA PC sales slump by 22 percent

pc-sales-slumpPC shipments in Europe are down again. New figures fresh out of the International Data Corporation (IDC) show that second-quarter PC shipments in the EMEA region were down 22.2 percent compared to the same quarter last year. 

EMEA PC shipments last quarter reached 19.6 million units and portable PCs got the worst of it, with a 26-percent drop and shipments of 12.4 million units. Desktops fared a bit better, with shipments of 7.2 million units, down 14.6 percent. 

In Western Europe shipments declined by 21.2% year-on-year. Britain did rather well, all things considered, as it was down just 14%. Germany slowed down 18.7%, while France remained the softest with a 20.9% drop. 

However, let’s not forget about Southern Europe – PC shipments in Spain dropped 43.7 percent and with no end to Spain’s economic woes in sight, the trend is likely to continue. Central Europe was down 27 percent, while the Middle East and Africa slumped 18 percent. Although Middle Eastern economies and Turkey are doing rather well, political instability and economic uncertainty are taking their toll. 

“The evolution of form factors and the change in perception of mobile computing to ‘always on and always connected’ devices, development of social networks and Internet infrastructure, are all changing consumer behaviour impacting the way PCs are utilized,” said Maciej Gornicki, senior research analyst, IDC EMEA Personal Computing. “While Windows-based hybrid devices, convertible or ultraslim notebooks with touch capabilities generate a clear interest, sales remain weak.”

Gornicki noted that one of the main inhibitors to growth in new form factors remains price, but IDC expects prices to tumble in time for the holiday season and sales of ultraslim notebooks should pick up in the fourth quarter and beyond. 

It is also worth noting that notebook sales figures include mini notebooks, or netbooks, which are dying out. Meanwhile desktop sales don’t appear to be slowing down at the same rate as portable PC sales, as they can’t be cannibalized by tablets. Besides, desktops are a staple for small businesses and corporate users who can’t always hold off purchases like consumers.

Although the decline was significant, some vendors still managed to stay in the black. Lenovo’s shipments grew 19 percent year-on-year, making it the only big brand to see any growth. Lenovo ranked second, with 2.62 million PCs shipped. HP is still the EMEA market leader with shipments of 3.72 million units, but unlike Lenovo its shipments were down 23.2 percent compared to a year ago. As a result there was no big change in HP’s market share, which currently stands at 19 percent, down from 19.2 percent. However, Lenovo’s share increased from 8.7 percent in Q2 2012 to 13.4 percent last quarter. 

Acer ranked third with 2.26 million units, but it also suffered a massive 42.2 percent drop in shipments and saw its market share tumble from 15.5 percent to 11.5 percent. Dell’s shipments dropped 9 percent, but it actually managed to grow its market share to 10.7 percent, up from 9.1 last year. Asus also suffered a slump, with 1.69 million shipped boxes, down 38.5 percent.

Chromebooks defy slow PC market with strong growth

chromebookDemand for traditional desktops and laptops has been waning for years and the last two quarters saw the biggest slump in PC shipments in decades, but Google’s Chromebooks have bucked the trend.

Envisioned as cheap alternatives to Windows based laptops and netbooks, Chromebooks are cheap and cheerful, usually priced between $199 and $299. Although the market is still on a tablet binge, consumers seem to be quite interested in Chromebooks as well.

NPD estimates that Chromebooks have already managed to seize 20 to 25 percent of the sub-$300 laptop market in the Land of the Free. Overall, Chromebooks had a 4 to 5 percent market share in the first quarter, up from one to two percent a year ago.

That is a pretty impressive share for a category of products that practically didn’t exist a year ago and even today many consumers have no idea what a Chromebook actually is. NPD analyst Stephen Baker told Bloomberg that he was initially sceptical, but he now believes Chrombooks have managed to find a niche in the marketplace.

“The entire computing ecosystem is undergoing some radical change, and I think Google has its part in that change,” he said.

The untimely demise of the netbook also played a role in the Chromebook surge. Although netbooks weren’t that big among average consumers, they were essentially a good way of getting very cheap yet fully functional computers to schools and other institutions on a budget.

Chromebooks are just more of the same, but their success beckons the question – couldn’t have Intel and Microsoft played their netbook cards a bit better five years ago? After all, Google seems to be proving that there is still enough room for dirt cheap laptops, in spite of the tablet juggernaut. It seems Intel made a terrible strategic miscalculation with Atom cores.

Five years ago Chipzilla didn’t want to peddle high-volume low-margin chips, yet now it is struggling to come up with competitive mobile SoCs, which are basically an evolution of the original Atom concept. Maintaining higher margins and appeasing the Street with good quarterly results seems to have been more important than a comprehensive long-term mobile strategy.

Notebook shipments hit new low

ancient-laptopContract manufacturers of notebooks had one of their worst quarters on record in Q1. According to IHS, they suffered a worse than expected quarter, with shipments to Apple and HP tumbling to the lowest level in three years.

Global shipments from ODMs in the first quarter totalled 33.2 million units, down 17 percent from 40.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2012.

The downturn was four to five percentage points than what IHS had originally forecast, prompting more concerns about the beleaguered industry. Taiwan based ODMs build notebooks for Apple, HP, Dell, Samsung, Lenovo, Acer, Asus and Toshiba.

The knock on effect hit ODMs hard. Quanta got the worst of it, with a 27 percent plunge in shipments. It lost its spot as the world’s top ODM to Compal as a result. Furthermore, Quanta apparently received “conservative” orders from Acer, Asus, HP and Apple during the quarter. Compal saw a quarterly decline of 5 to 7 percent and it weathered the storm a bit better than other ODMs, thanks to stable shipments to Dell and Lenovo.

Wistron’s drop in shipments was 16 percent, but it still managed to rank third. Inventec saw a 9-percent drop and it ended in fourth spot, while Pegatron wasn’t as lucky. It saw its shipments plummet 21 percent, finishing the quarter in fifth spot.

There’s light at the end of the tunnel, though. ODM shipments are expected to improve in the second half of the year. The key drivers of growth will be cheap ultrathin PCs with touchscreens, along with new models based on Intel Haswell parts. In addition, Microsoft will lower the licencee fee for Windows for notebooks with a screen size of up to 11.6 inches, as we reported from Computex a few weeks back. Better late than never.

Analysts call on Acer to rethink its strategy

acer-logo-ceLast week Acer held its annual shareholder bash in Taiwan, which was marked by a strange mix of optimism and admissions that the company was unprepared for the boom in tablets. Acer chairman Wang Jeng-tang issued an apology to shareholders, as he failed to boost the company’s shares, but he reiterated Acer’s commitment to the traditional PC market.