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jaargang 14, nummer 10 2004

3 september, 2004

Digitimes.com

Typhoon stops work in north Taiwan
The eye of Typhoon Aere came was north of Taipei early Wednesday morning august 24th and work has been called off the day before from Hsinchu up to Keelung, including Taipei.
LCD panel prices to fall again in September
TFT panel prices will fall sequentially in September, but less dramatically than in August, according to sources at market research firms and second-tier makers.
Prices of lower-end 19-inch panels are expected to fall below US$300, down from US$320-340, due mainly to unsatisfactory sales in the segment, the sources said.
Prices of 17-inch LCD monitor panels will drop below US$200, down from US$255, and prices of 15-inch panels may drop to US$160-170, down from US$200. Both projected figures bring prices close to production costs.
In contrast, the price of 20-inch LCD TV panels will remain at the current level of US$360. Larger size 30- and 32-inch LCD TV panel prices are expected to fall US$20-30, down from US$875 and US$950.
Amid the pessimistic forecast, some firms did, however, indicate that not only will the price drops be limited to second-tier makers, but demand will rapidly pick up because downstream makers are now being more aggressive in placing orders with panel makers.
The sources expect prices of LCD-monitor panels from Samsung, LG.Philips LCD and AU Optronics (AUO) to stabilize in September.
Panel demand is not expected to become weaker in the fourth quarter of this year since downstream makers have not yet cut their total amount of orders; rather, they have delayed orders from August to no later than October, sources explained.
Dell and Asus to launch AV notebooks to compete with Toshiba
Dell and Asustek Computer plan to launch 17-inch AV (audio video) notebooks to compete with Toshiba's recently launched Qosmio notebook.
The new AV notebooks are intended to give a jolt to sales in the second half of this year, with most vendors claiming that demand was not as strong as expected in the first half. Toshiba was the first to introduce an AV notebook, launching the E15-AV101, its first Qosmio model (pronounced koss-me-oh) on July 22. The E15-AV101 features TV and audio functionality, DVD recording and personal computing, according to Toshiba. The Centrino-based notebook also has a 15-inch diagonal TruBrite screen and will be available starting in August.
Dell launched its long-awaited 12.1-inch, wide-screen Inspiron 700m, manufactured by Wistron, on July 27. The Inspiron 700m had been postponed, due to delays of Intel's Dothan CPU launch. The Inspiron 700m, along with an upcoming 17-inch AV model, are a crucial part of Dell's plan to capture back-to-school sales.
Dell will outsource the production of the 17-inch AV notebook to Compal Electronics.
Asustek will also introduce a 17-inch AV notebook as part of its V6-series, with the notebook being priced at more than NT$100,000 (about US$2,940), according to the sources.
AMD Athlon in shortage, after price cuts
A surge in demand for AMD Athlon processors has caused a supply shortage in the channels in Taiwan, China and Europe, and this may undermine AMD's opportunity to boost its market share. Demand for Athlon processors began to pick up after AMD cut its CPU prices by an average 30% in July. The shortage involves the complete lineup of AMD's Athlon processors, including the Athlon 64 2800 , 3000 , 3200 and the Athlon 64 FX53.
In addition, the supply of AMD's recently launched Sempron is insufficient, sources said. While acknowledging the shortage, sources at AMD Taiwan said that the company will be able to replenish the stocks in overseas markets within the next one to two weeks.
The shortage will make it more difficult for AMD to boost its market share since rival Intel also cut prices.
Lite-On IT sees growing shipments DVD burners
Lite-On IT, the largest manufacturer of optical disc drives in Taiwan, expects its DVD burner shipments to rise from a monthly average of 500,000-600,000 units in previous months to 700,000-800,000 units in and further to 900,000 to a million units each month next quarter, according to the company. Next quarter, Lite-On IT may become the largest maker of DVD burners worldwide.
The growth is partly due to an adequate supply of DVD burner chipsets from MediaTek, Lite-On IT indicated. Other DVD burner makers in Taiwan, liek BenQ, Behavior Tech Computer (BTC), Quanta Storage and Accesstek, are considering adoption of Mediatek's chipsets because the company offers lower prices than imported products and can act as a second source to secure stable supply.
Due to a price war triggered by Japanese makers as Pioneer and NEC, OEM quotations for 16x DVD burners have dropped to US$95-100, according to Taiwanese OEM makers. For 4x and 8x DVD burners, Japanese OEM makers started volume production a couple of months earlier than their Taiwanese competitors and were able to enjoy higher OEM prices during the 'honeymoon' period. However, Taiwanese makers including Lite-On IT and BenQ began volume production of 16x DVD burners right after their Japanese competitors. Japanese makers responded by initiating lower prices, with the Taiwanese makers immediately matching the quotes.
ECS revises forecast, to post NT$645 million loss
First-tier motherboard and notebook maker Elitegroup Computer Systems (ECS) revised its earnings projection for 2004 to a loss of NT$645 million before taxes, instead of a profit of NT$598 million forecast earlier. The company posted pre-tax losses of NT$600 million in the first half of the year. ECS also lowered its 2004 projected revenues by 2% to NT$20.53 billion and slashed targeted motherboard shipments by 12.5% to 17.5 million units from 20 million units, citing slower than expected sales growth in the first half. For the first seven months of this year, the company's revenues totaled NT$9.63 billion, down 72.1% from a year earlier.
Despite lowering its forecast for this year's second half, the company claims shipments of its notebooks and motherboards are growing steadily. ECS is aggressively developing its high-end motherboard line, and the company aims to ship 100,000 notebooks per month by year-end.
LCD companies grab market share amid price war
First-tier LCD monitor makers are using a heated price war to increase their market share in the Taiwan market. The market share of first-tier makers, including the Chi Mei Group, BenQ, ViewSonic, Samsung and Royal Philips Electronics has reached 90%, up from 70-80% previously, after they aggressively cut their prices.
Prices of 17-inch CMV and PolyView (both brand names of Chi Mei LCD) monitors have dropped below NT$10,000 (US$293). BenQ has also cut the price of its 15-inch displays by 20% while ViewSonic is aggressively pricing its 19-inch monitors at NT$16,900 (US$495).
After the price cuts, Chi Mei was able to claim a market share of 32-33%, up from less than 30% in the second quarter, while BenQ now has 25% of the market, up from 18-19%, the companies said. ViewSonic, Samsung and Philips also saw their market shares jump 3-5% on increases of 20-30% in their sales. Taiwan is expected to consume some 1.4 million monitors, including 1.2 million LCD models this year, according to BenQ Asia-Pacific's president of sales for Taiwan. Chi Mei was said to be among the first makers to cut monitor prices to below cost by slashing its prices of 17-inch LCD monitors to US$265-270.
Albatron debuts the Widio, a portable wireless audio system
Albatron Technology has announced the Widio wireless audio system, capable of streaming audio signals from a range of audio devices, including TVs, DVDs, stereos, computers and more, to your headset.
The Widio keeps the wireless receiver unit apart from the headset - it can be worn on your belt or placed in one of your pockets. And this system does not require a specialized wireless headset. The majority of the lightweight headsets or earbuds available at almost any audio store are compatible with the Albatron system. You simply attach the headset to the receiver that you carry with you.
There are two basic components needed for this system, the transceiver and the receiver. The transceiver is connected to your audio system (stereo, DVD, TV etc.) using a standard audio cable. The audio system sends the audio signals to the transceiver, which in turn uses RF (radio frequencies) to broadcast the signals. The receiver is a small, portable device (about the size of a deck of cards) that you carry with you, attached to your headset.
Individual Widio transceivers can simultaneously broadcast their own audio using their own unique channels. The receiver scans all of the available channels when the scan button is pushed. Up to seven channels (or transceivers) can be set up in one area.
The transceiver's signals can penetrate walls and have a maximum signal range of 100 meters (line-of-sight). The Widio operates at a frequency of 2.4GHz and can deliver a data stream at a bandwidth of 2Mbps without the need for any data compression or decompression, guaranteeing uninterrupted audio quality. The receiver uses a commonly used mobile phone battery, the Nokia 8 series battery. The receiver also provides FM radio functionality.
The Widio is currently being shipped and should be on store shelves in the US, Europe, Australia and Japan from the beginning of September, according to the company.
Lenovo places desktop orders with ECS and MSI
The China-based Lenovo Group (formerly the Legend Group) has placed orders for entry-level desktop PCs with ECS and MSI, aiming to boost its share of China's domestic PC market. Lenovo's entry-level notebooks, which feature AMD processors, carry a list price of around 2,999 yuan (about US$365). ECS, already the largest motherboard contract maker for Lenovo, apparently won the order after it recently revamped its corporate strategy, which emphasizes the importance of securing EMS orders from regional vendors and system integrators.
Philips warns unlicensed DVD R makers
Philips recently took action to protect its DVD R patent rights by warning unlicensed disc makers in Taiwan and notifying customs agencies and distributors in Europe they should block imports from Taiwan makers who violate their patents. Taiwan's top producers of optical discs, including CMC Magnetics, Ritek and Prodisc Technology, are licensed to use Philips DVD R technology, while second-tier and smaller makers are not. As Philips' DVD R patents also cover CD-R technology, there is some ambiguity about the DVD R royalty claim. This is why disc makers are unwilling to pay the royalty, unlicensed Taiwan users explained. Although Philips has not yet taken legal proceedings, disc makers that have received a warning from the company are watching to see how the situation develops. In a related development, Philips lost a CD-R/RW patent suit in the US in March of this year against Taiwan makers, which means the company may have difficulty trying to claim royalty payments for its CD-R/RW patents.
ATI and nVidia to battle for PCI Express market
A battle for the PCIe or PCX (PCI Express) GPU channel market between ATI and Nvidia looms in the fourth quarter, despite an ATI claim that it has delivered over one million native PCIe chips to the market. ATI said in a press release shipments of its native PCIe chips have topped the one million mark since they were launched on June 1, helping speed the industry transition to PCI Express. However, sources stated that channel sales of ATI PCIe chips have not gone well. The company gave priority to PC OEMs and system integrators, so the supply in the channel has been limited.
This has allowed rival nVidia, which recently launched a native PCIe-enabled GPU, the GeForce 6600 (codenamed NV43), a chance to compete effectively with ATI in the channel, the source said.
In Q4, nVvidia plans to launch its NV44-series of native PCIe-enabled chips, which will target the US$79-99 graphics card segment and should give a boost to the sales of nVidia's PCIe chips, the sources added.

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