San Diego (CA) - There is an undeniable trend of computer demand moving away from desktops towards notebooks. During Black Friday week, the amount of notebooks sold was even higher than the number of desktops consumers purchased. But it was not just the mobility feature that accelerated notebook sales : System prices below $400 drove customers into retail stores.
According to Current Analysis, electronics retailers enjoyed dramatically increased computer sales during the Thanksgiving week. Unit numbers sold during the week soared by 35 percent, revenues climbed 11 percent over the Thanksgiving week of 2004.
For the first time in a holiday period, notebooks outsold desktop computers. Current Analysis said that notebooks ended up fetching a 52 percent share over the 48 percent of desktops. The research firm described notebook sales growth as "explosive" - gaining 48.6 percent in terms of shipments and 21 percent in revenue year-over-year. Desktops sales increased 23 percent in unit numbers, but declined 4 percent in revenues.
The success of notebooks is a sign of growing popularity of notebooks, but was driven "100 percent" by aggressive pricing, according to Current Analysis principal analyst Sam Bhavnani. According to the company, average notebook pricing in the 2004 Thanksgiving week was $1050 ; this year it was $850. All major stores offer notebooks for prices below $400, with some retailers beating even this price point substantially : For example, Circuit City offered a $199 notebook. Walmart’s sales of a $378 notebook was not included in Current Analysis’ statistics, as Walmart does not disclose sales figures - which makes the win of the mobile segment even more significant.
The decrease in average selling price did not bring a similar decline in features. According to Bhavnani, the most attractive devices were 14" and 15" widescreen devices as compared to 15" notebooks in 2004. Also, the typical notebook had twice the system memory this year - 512 MByte instead of 256 MByte.
Cheaper desktop computers also sold much better than systems with higher price points. Analyst Tony Duboise told TG Daily that systems with "disruptive price points" - $179 mini towers and $399 PCs with LCDs - ended up to be the most attractive products. Compared to the back-to-school sales season - when Media Center PCs were the best selling PCs - the segment disappointed during the Thanksgiving week. In the week ending Nov 19, Media Center PCs accounted for 58 percent of all retail desktop sales, in the directly following Thanksgiving week, their share dropped to 32 percent.
According to Duboise, the average selling price of Media Center system even increased in the Thanksgiving week - from $749 to $755. Retailers apparently did not focus on Media Center PCs on Black Friday, but were betting on computers with lowest possible prices instead. Duboise said that overall average desktop system pricing decreased from the week ending Nov 19 from $652 to $490 in the week of Black Friday (ending Nov 26).