There's still gold in them hills

There's still gold in them hills

For what is meant to be a low-margin, highly commoditised and very crowded section of the industry, the laptop market has generated a great deal of heat and headlines over the past few weeks.

First the new Macbook Air hit the shelves with the promise to topple the ultra-portable Apple cart with its lightweight, super-sleek design.

Then last week Lenovo entered the fray with the Thinkpad X300 – which it claims is thinner and, depending on the configuration, lighter than the Air. [Our story on page 7 provides more detailed comparisons between the two machines, as does PC World editor Chris Keall’s blog of February 28 on]

Both Sony and Acer meanwhile offered limited edition premium machines in the past month. Sony supplied only 55 lizard-skin style Vaio CR units locally, while Acer released just 19 of its souped-up Ferrari 1100.

In addition, Renaissance has upped its commitment to NEC by setting up a new division to manage the brand from demand generation and marketing to logistics and distribution.

NEC plans to achieve a five percent share of the local PC market in the next five years. It currently holds around three percent.

Other laptop makers have similar ambitions.

Fujitsu has this year re-introduced its laptops locally through a partnership with Morning Star.

While NEC is looking for more retail outlets, Fujitsu is supplying a number of its models into The Warehouse.

And of course, we have not yet seen how other vendors will respond to the unforeseen success of the Eee PC – Asus’ low-cost, ultra-small laptop.

However, for now the real laptop battle seems set to be played out at the top-end of the market.

As solid state memory goes up in capacity and comes down in price, vendors will rush to market with faster, lighter and thinner laptops.

The good news for resellers is that in the foreseeable future these are likely to remain premium products, which will yield higher margins.

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