Toshiba, it seems, is not content to be undercut by competitors like Acer and ASUS in the netbook market. Most of its machines are priced on the higher end, but it is now developing some netbooks designed to be under $600.
Norio Sasaki explained in simple words the motivation behind the change in tactics:
“The shift to lower prices is evident so our products must match.”
Details about the upcoming netbooks are scant, but we do know that Toshiba plans to make two of them. Sasaki commented that Toshiba would “like to increase [its] products [in the sub-$599 range] from four to six.”
These cheaper netbooks are expected first in Europe and the US, where price competition is highest.
Europe’s netbook market was beaten out by that of the States, but nevertheless 2.5 million of the 20.1 million PCs shipped were netbooks. Netbook shipments accounted for a great deal of the PC market’s 12.1% growth last year. However, the netbook boost didn’t solve all of the industry’s problems – Gartner says the European PC market was 17.2% more massive in 2007.
The netbook manufacturer ASUS, the brain behind the Eee PC, shipped 1.49 million of the total 2.5 in fourth quarter. A year earlier, that number was a mere 513,000. That’s 190% growth!
Acer, to contrast, saw a mere 12.4% growth, but they’ve already got 20.3% of the PC market – they sell notebooks, not just netbooks – so they have little to worry about. ASUS also captured more of the market share, stretching its reach from 2.9% a year ago to 7.4% last quarter.
The average selling price of a PC dropped 15%, according to the Gartner report. Hopefully this is just a temporary shift, but it’s difficult to ignore the growing power of mobile PCs, notebooks, and of course netbooks.
The netbook market was less heroic in regions such as Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. They’ve all been feeling the economic crisis, and their electronics markets, no matter how small they were in the first place, still suffered.