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Toshiba, Sony and Fujitsu in laptop price war

31 июля 2008

Sony, Toshiba and Fujitsu are all preparing to launch ultra low-cost laptops in an effort to get into the booming market led by Taiwan’s Asustek, whose EeePC sells for as little as $300.

Quanta, the world’s biggest notebook contract manufacturer, plans to make such a laptop for Sony, according to sources in Taiwan.

Inventec, a Taiwanese laptop manufacturer that also makes a Hewlett-Packard model, is assembling a cheap laptop for Toshiba. And Taiwanese component maker executives say Fujitsu is preparing to make its own ultra low-cost laptop in-house.

The move is an attempt to counter the threat from makers of cheap laptops who have been grabbing market share from the high-priced versions of the small format notebooks sold by the Japanese groups.

The unprecedented success of Asustek’s EeePClaunched by late last year has already prompted the three biggest laptop makers, HP, Dell and Acer, to announce their own plans for cheap notebook releases.

Alvin Kwock, an analyst at JPMorgan, said: “For the Japanese, the rapid emergence of this new market segment is clearly a pain.

You see them making this move now because they fear the cheap laptops will cannibalise their UMPCs [ultra-mobile personal computers].”

Small, light computers with strong connectivity features that can cost $2,000 or more have remained a niche product after several years in the market.

Initially, industry experts believed it would be low-end desktop PCs or existing cheap notebooks that would suffer most from the rise of the new low-cost laptops – also called netbooks, mini-notes or sub-notes.

But sales of the EeePC and its rivals show that the cheapest mini-notes, which sell at about US$300, are not as popular as those priced at US$500 or more with stronger technical features.

Fujitsu confirmed it was developing a low-cost notebook for Hong Kong, mainland China and Singapore. But the Japanese group said it had not decided when it would begin selling it.

Fujitsu said it would hold off selling the low-cost PC in Japan until it was clear there was sufficient demand.

Sony, Toshiba and Quanta declined to comment. Inventec was not available for comment.

Источник: Financial Times

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