PC, Mobile Firms Battle for Netbooks: Impact Price

Dennis Faas's picture

Netbooks are one of the few bright spots in a weakened economy. Surging sales of these devices have resulted in computer makers like Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Acer, and Asus scurrying to rush out new models.

And computer makers aren't alone. Mobile phone manufacturers like Samsung and LG Electronics view netbooks as extensions of the smartphone. Nokia has also confirmed that it is considering entering the netbook market with a version of its own. (Source: iht.com)

Snagging Control of the Netbook Market

Another competition between computer and mobile phone manufacturers is raging behind the scenes, as both industries race to decide who will control sales of netbooks.

How broad the market for netbooks will eventually become depends on who wins the race. If the mobile phone manufacturers win, prices for netbooks could fall rapidly, putting the mini-laptops in the hands of more people around the world. Conversely, if the computer manufacturers win, netbooks could end up remaining pricier and less widely distributed.

A Continental Comparison

In Europe, mobile operators appear to have the edge so far. In Asia and North America, netbooks are sold primarily by computer retailers, although in the U.S., AT&T Wireless began selling discounted Dell and Acer netbooks with data plans last December.

Carphone Warehouse, a mobile phone retailer in Britain, claims to be the largest seller of netbooks, though they have not yet released sales figures. They give away Samsung, Acer, Asus, Fujitsu and Sony netbooks to customers who sign two-year data contracts with mobile operators.

Orange, France Telecom's mobile unit, signed an agreement with Hewlett-Packard to sell HP netbooks loaded with Orange applications and services through Orange's 10,000 stores in the Baltic countries and Germany.

Global Netbook Sales Expected To Double This Year

According to research firm Gartner, global sales of netbooks will nearly double to 21 million this year as opposed to laptop sales, which are expected to fall by 9 percent to 156 million. Desktop PC sales are expected to fall by 32 percent to 101 million. (Source: iht.com)

Last month we reported that Nokia was eyeing the notebook market. John Strand, an analyst with Strand Consult in Copenhagen believes that Nokia could be pressured to get into the netbook business since many mobile operators are transferring subsidies from smartphones to netbooks.

Through subsidies, four billion people -- nearly two-thirds of the world's population -- had mobile phones at the end of 2008. According to Gartner, only around one billion people have PCs.

If mobile manufacturers win the race, it could challenge computer makers because, as it is now with mobile phones, network owners could dictate design and performance features of devices permitted on their networks. Computer manufacturers may not have the luxury of being choosy due to the current economic crisis.

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