8/28/2008 10:07:00 AM
Retailers hoping for mini-laptop market to boost trading
Mobile retailers are bracing themselves for the mini-laptop market to save the industry from what could otherwise be the worst trading period in recent history.
Only 30,000 mini laptops were sold in December 2007. However, analysts say figures could jump tenfold this December.
3 and Vodafone are believed to be close to agreeing deals to launch their own-brand mini laptops to bundle with their mobile broadband packages in the coming weeks. The products will be ‘Sim-loaded’ and will have the operators’ logos on them.
Carphone Warehouse is understood to be planning its own exclusive mini laptop under a well-known ‘premium design brand’ ready for an autumn launch, according to one source.
The two Korean manufacturers, LG and Samsung, are also looking to bring better design into what has so far been uninspiring looks on low-spec products made by Chinese manufacturers like Asus.
LG’s mobile team recently brought laptop products into its division, away from LG’s electronics department.
The mini-laptop market (laptops with seven to eight-inch screens) has already grown from half a percent of the entire laptop market in December 2007 to 3% six months later, and is growing at a much faster rate month-on-month.
The laptops are being bundled free with fixed and mobile broadband contracts.
One senior retail director said: ‘We’ve seen phenomenal sales already in the UMPC (ultra mobile PC) space and we’ve made plans to stock large numbers for the rest of the year. Sales are coming almost exclusively from customers who have never owned their own PC or laptop before.’
Carphone made an initial 60,000 order with manufacturer Elonex to make its own-brand version under the name ‘Webbook’ back in mid-June, which it priced at around £200 unsubsidised.