Touch-screen notebooks forecast to shine on 2013 market (update)

Taipei, Jan. 18 (CNA) Touch-screen notebook computers will be the highlight of the global computer market this year amid growing demand and and falling production costs, according to a Taipei-based market advisory firm. The penetration rate of touch-screen notebooks was only 0.9 percent in 2012 but is expected to climb to 7.3 percent this year and 35 percent by 2016, TrendForce Corp. said in a recent statement. Various touch-screen notebook models will "have a break of fortune" in the market this year, paddling out from the weak macroeconomic conditions, the firm said. Prices of touch-screen notebooks are expected to drop in the second half of the year, based mainly on lower production cost of integrated touch controllers, it added. Software will play a critical role in the "explosive growth" of touch-screen laptops, TrendForce forecast, noting that the Windows operating system has not been fully compatible with the Metro user interface design language and has only a few applications. But market analysts said recently that smart handheld devices, such as smartphones and tablets, have been gaining popularity and cannibalizing the laptop market. Global notebook shipments are expected to total 43.45 million units in the first quarter of 2013, down 8.9 percent from a year earlier and 10.4 percent from the previous quarter, local research firm Digitimes Research forecast. The shipment volume will be a record low since the second half of 2009, it said. In the rankings of global notebook manufacturers, China's Lenovo Group will overtake Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) as the world's No. 1, as HP shipments are expected to fall by a quarterly 15 percent in the first quarter, the biggest drop among the top brands, Digitimes forecast. Dell Inc. will retain third place, followed by Taiwan's Acer Inc. and Asustek Computer Inc., Digitimes said. (By James Lee)