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TrendForce: Uncertainties Remain in 2014 NB Market with Shipment Dropping 1-2% YoY

2013 is undoubtedly a sluggish year for the NB industry. According to the survey by WitsView, the display division of the global intelligence provider TrendForce, the global NB shipment for entire 2013 is around 167 million units, dipping 10% YoY, as the impacts brought by the touch function test the compatibility between software and hardware as well as consumers’ using habit, in addition to the global economic downturn. 2014 is projected to see constant NB shipment declines, but the decrease can narrow to 1-2%. WitsView analyst Caroline Chen emphasizes on several points to be observed as below:

Figure: 2010-2016 NB Shipment and Growth (actual and forecast) 

A Major Challenge of Practicability of Touch NB

WitsView underlines a penetration rate of 10.2% for the touch NB in 2013 because of the excessive selling prices and software and hardware lagging behind optimization. The touch function in clamshell touch NBs is rarely used as the input is mainly based on the conventional mouse, touch board, and keyboard and the application cannot work along. Despite the 2-in-1 designs of single OS and duo OS (Android/Windows) both find better way to perform the touch function, it eventually leads to heavier and thicker set volumes, and software lacking practicability is the most crucial issue. Next year consumers will still hesitate between a 2-in-1 NB and a conventional NB plus a tablet.

Microsoft and Intel to Drive Touch NB Prices

Microsoft has announced this year the SST (Small Screen Touch) rebate program, allowing the 10.1” and 11.6” touch NBs to cut prices. 10.1” Transformer Book launched by Asus at the end of the year, covered by the SST rebate and using the CPU of Intel Bay Trail-T series, is amazingly tagged at only $349. Microsoft and Intel’s intention to extend the touch NB rebate or cut product prices will be the key to rapidly lower ASP next year.

Three Trends in Spec: High Resolution, Slimness, Power-Saving

The FHD resolution will overtake the HD at a faster pace next year, while slim panels, light-weight case materials and prismatic and cylindrical batteries all facilitate the mobility. In addition, Apple’s new MacBook air 13 has battery life as long as 12 hours, suggesting more brands will make effort on the battery durability next year. Those basic spec improvements are not as much promoted as the touch function but remain a direction for NBs to move forward.

Acer Faces Both Internal and External Obstacles in 2014

Acer, once the second-largest NB brand, has ceded its No.3 title this year and has to deal with the organization reshuffle in the company. Based on WitsView’s calculation, Acer’s shipment for this year reaches around 17-18 million units, dipping 27-30% YoY. Chen indicates compared to other NB brands, Acer holds a monotone product lineup, without expansion to smart phones and tablets, and lacks substitute product to support growth while the NB segment is shrinking. Even Acer’s operation overhaul is constructive; its possibly delayed action may underscore the threats from other brands, especially Lenovo who is overlapping in the market with Acer and Asus who also shares the Taiwanese-background characteristic. Thus, 2014 will be a challenging year for Acer.

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