The world's largest notebook manufacturer, HP, is now expected to ship fewer than 21 million notebook PCs in 2014. As even HP's shipment numbers drop, the entire notebook industry is poised for contraction in the face of a burgeoning tablet market and the consumer apathy surrounding Windows 8. Now, it seems that notebook manufacturers themselves are already anticipating slow sales during the back-to-school season.
Industry analysts at IHS today revealed that all but one of the top 9 notebook manufacturers slashed their orders of LCD notebook panels in July. Only 14.9 million LCD notebook panels were shipped that month, down from 19.3 million shipped in July 2012. July's shipments were also lower than June's, which saw 18.1 million panel shipments. The expectation is that these lowered orders will lead to 23% fewer notebooks shipped in 2013 compared to last year.
“Notebook brands during the third quarter typically increase their purchases of LCD panels as they prepare to launch new mobile PC models for the second half of the year,” said Ricky Park, senior manager for large-area displays at IHS. “However, many key brands this year have accumulated large panel inventory surpluses because of weak sales in the first half. This has caused them to reduce purchases in July, leading to major declines in notebook PC panel market shipments both on a sequential and an annual basis.”
The reason for notebook declines is as clear as its been for months now. The quickly-growing tablet market is easy to blame, as customers turn toward simplicity for their mobile computing. Beyond that, consumers simply don't need new notebooks. No new software has shown up that might push consumers to upgrade their current, fully-functional notebooks. Windows 8 was predicted to drive new notebook adoption, but the re-designed Microsoft operating system has failed to resonate with consumers. With this in mind, it is unclear exactly what type of customer new, more expensive touchscreen notebooks are aimed at.