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Consumers want widescreen notebooks - analyst

US sales of 15.4in laptops rocket

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The 15in widescreen-format display has emerged as the consumer's ideal notebook screen size, according to market watcher Current Analysis' latest stats from the US.

The company's figures show increasing sales of 15.4in widescreen notebooks through the first half of 2004, apart from a slight dip in May. That month was also a momentary reversal of the decline seen in non-widescreen 15in models.

At the start of the year, the latter accounted for 73 per cent of the US consumer notebook market. By the end of the June, that share had fallen to 35 per cent. By contrast, the proportion of 15in widescreen notebooks in the sales mix rose from 15 per cent to 48 per cent.

Sales of other screen formats have grown through the year, though not to the same extent. Multimedia-oriented 17in notebooks have gone from around six per cent of the market in January to eight per cent in June, while 12.1in models pitched at users wanting a higher degree of portability than other sizes offer have grown from five per cent to nine per cent of the market.

"Most of the major manufacturers are now competing in the widescreen space," said Sam Bhavnani, Current Analysis' senior mobile computing analyst. "HP has focused much of its energy on the widescreen segment since April, eMachines entire line-up is widescreen and both Toshiba and Sony have recently revised its consumer notebook strategy focus to on widescreen models."

Inevitably, there's the question of whether consumers represent the chicken or the egg. Manufacturers are pushing widescreen notebooks hard, but is that in response to consumer demand, or are consumers simply buying more widescreen notebooks because that's what they're being sold.

Either way, Bhavnani said he expects demand for widescreen models to increase through the rest of the year, particularly as we head into the holiday sales season. ®

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