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Western demand for netbooks in decline?

Chinese 3G networks taking up the slack - and then some

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If you can't find the netbook you want to buy, blame Chinese mobile phone networks. However, the signs are you're not going to buy a netbook anyway.

According to Asian memory market watcher DRAMeXchange, such is the demand for netbooks among China's carriers - they want them to bundle with 3G data packages - rather a lot of component suppliers' output is flowing into the Peoples' Republic and not elsewhere.

That, the organisation warned, will lead to semiconductor shortages that, it reckons, won't be alleviated until the June/July timeframe.

Tight supply will encourage suppliers to up prices too, industry moles cited by Chinese-language paper the Commercial Times added.

All of which suggests Small, Cheap Computers are going to become less readily available and less inexpensive over here.

But does that matter? Is the netbook fad coming to an end? Among all the talk of tightening chip supplies comes a separate report by way of DigiTimes that demand for Atom processors is slowing down.

The industry insiders who make the claim point to falling prices of notebooks based on Intel's ultra-low voltage Core 2 processors - punters can pick up machines that can do more than netbooks can but aren't radically larger or heavier, all for not much more money than a netbook will cost.

The moles also suggested buyers are waiting for Intel to release its second-generation Atom N-series chips, which it's expected to do in H2.

The sources suggest Intel is aware of this trend and that's one reason why it's been allegedly giving priority to those Chinese manufacturers who're pumping product to the 3G carriers. ®

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