Chinese demand for ultra-slim notebook computers to grow: IDC
Research firm IDC expects low-priced models with long-lasting batteries to drive sales
Demand for ultraslim note- books on the mainland may rise this year as low-priced models with longer battery life become available in the world's largest personal computer market, analysts say.
Technology research firm IDC expects computer giants Dell and Lenovo to remain the mainland's top two brands for ultraslim notebooks this year, followed by Asus, Samsung Electronics and Hewlett-Packard.
Apple is the mainland's sixth-leading supplier of ultraslim notebooks. Its MacBook Air computer is the worldwide bestseller in the category.
IDC describes an ultraslim notebook as a laptop computer that is no more than 21 millimetres thick, with a screen size of between 10 and 17 inches, measured diagonally.
Semiconductor firm Intel, however, has since 2011 promoted the "Ultrabook" branding and specification for ultraslim notebooks that run its chips and Microsoft's Windows operating system. Those compete directly against the MacBook Air, which also uses Intel chips but can operate both the Mac OS X and Windows platforms.
Bryan Ma, associate vice-president for Asia-Pacific client devices research at IDC, said Apple had taken a leap forward by being the first in the industry to release ultraslim notebooks with Intel's new Core i5 and Core i7 processors. Apple released new MacBook Air models last month that feature up to 12 hours of battery life, made possible by Intel's more power-efficient chips.
Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice-president of worldwide marketing, said: "MacBook Air is the industry leader for thin and light notebooks, and now with longer battery life, we've set the bar even higher."
Ma said the challenge for the personal computer industry was to provide long battery life and other features that rival what media tablets, such as Apple's iPad, offer. "The extended battery life on new ultraslim notebooks helps level the playing field a little more," Ma said.
Lenovo, the world's second-largest personal computer supplier, and other major brands are expected to soon release new Ultrabook models with the advanced Intel chips on the mainland. These models may also offer better value, following Apple's lead in lowering the prices on its latest MacBook Air line-up.
Market research firm GfK forecast "a new wave of laptop upgrades", driven by ultraslim notebooks. GfK's first-quarter retail audit in selected large- and medium-sized cities on the mainland showed that sales of these notebooks made up 20 per cent of total laptop sales.
IDC data showed that ultraslim notebook shipments on the mainland reached 830,000 units in the first quarter, up from 145,000 a year earlier.