Apple or PC?

30 10 2007

Apple might be the flavor of the moment in the consumer PC world, but hundreds of thousands of customers every year continue to choose plain vanilla “white box” PCs.Those purchases go on as Hewlett-Packard and Dell churn out millions of name-brand PCs every quarter, Acer enjoys double- and triple-digit growth rates, and Apple continues to be the darling of the hardware business.

At first glance, it would appear the white-box market hasn’t changed so dramatically in the past several years. The share of white-box computers (which includes PCs without brand names and those from smaller manufacturers) has decreased from a 44 percent share of the worldwide market in 2003 to 37 percent as of 2006, according to market researcher IDC.

But the growing popularity of notebook PCs spells big trouble for the future of white-box manufacturing. The “white-book” market has dwindled from an already-small 8.5 percent share to a 5.6 percent share between 2003 and 2006. That comes while notebooks have, over the same period of time, become the dominant PC form factor for top vendors Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Lenovo, and Acer, accounting for two-thirds of consumer PC sales.

The smaller PC assemblers can’t participate as easily in the notebook market. That’s because their bread and butter–an oversupply of parts they can buy at a discount–are intended more and more for specific notebook models. Read the rest of this entry »