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Lifestyle laptops

From being a portable option for executives, the laptop is now striking a strong note with regular consumers. Seeing huge sales, brands are pushing stylish, feature-varied, price-friendly choices

india Updated: Oct 25, 2010 01:20 IST
Anita Sharan

Trendy, stylish, sleek, colourful or designer, super-cinematic experience, JBL speakers or THX sound, Dolby headphones, super gaming experience… A home theatre system or a laptop? While everyone is talking about India’s mobile phone market boom, the laptop market too is recording big growth as consumers adopt laptops as part of their lifestyles.

As Ketan Patel, head, mobility business, HP India, said, “Consumer trends with computers, especially laptops, are changing very fast. Things like style quotient, body colours, excellent sound and graphics quality, besides the regular stuff including internet access, are becoming important as more consumers opt for laptops.”

Laptops include the more powerful notebook computers with larger screens, higher data processing capabilities, music, gaming and video facilities on the move, as compared to the smaller, lighter netbooks that can manage light data work and storage, and internet access. The next thing in the space appears to be tablet PCs — most brands are lining up launches. Laptops

S Rajendran, CMO, Acer India, said, “Today, consumers view the laptop more as a lifestyle product. Companies are exploring this area to feed in fresh lines of gadgets to lure them.”

International Data Corp (IDC) predicts that by 2015, laptop computer sales in India will be equal to desktop sales. The industry believes that beyond that, laptops will beat desktops on preference with Indian consumers. Laptop sales grew at 61 per cent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2010 over the same period in 2009, recording a unit shipment of 8.05 lakh.

Staying connected and accessing multimedia while on the move is a big attraction. “It’s becoming an individual need. Every person wants a laptop,” Patel said. “Currently, between 60-65 per cent of laptop sales are to individual consumers, while corporate use sales account for 35-40 per cent sales. In the July-September quarter this year, of the 11 lakh laptops sold, 6.5 lakh were bought by individual consumers.”

The number of brands vying for a share in the expanding laptop pie has gone up manifold. Brands such as Toshiba, LG, Samsung, Sony, MSI, Asus, Fujitsu, Panasonic and Indian brands such as Zenith, Sahara, Intex, have come in with laptop and netbook options for every kind of aspiration and pocket power, in addition to the already present HP-Compaq, IBM, Acer, HCL, Dell and Lenovo.

“The laptop has become more of a consumer product today. With the growing trend towards media convergence, the laptop is an easier, more compact, convenient solution, even at home. While the mobile phone gives you access to data and enables communication on the move, the portable PC allows for more complex work on the move. Both will co-exist, not compete,” said Ranjit Yadav, director mobile and IT, Samsung India.

He added that laptop prices are getting very attractive — Rs 15,000 at the lower end for a netbook and around Rs 30,000 for a notebook — adding to the assurance of branded quality, availability off the shelves and good services, all adding up to their appeal with consumers.

“Acer's price range for notebooks starts from Rs 19,000. And netbooks are at teasing price points starting from Rs 13,999,” Rajendran said.

As laptop brands get more aggressive, their advertising to consumers is growing. We are currently seeing Kareena Kapoor promoting the Sony Vaio E series range in vibrant colours.

Tadato Kimura, GM marketing, Sony India, said, “The consumer notebook market in India is currently estimated at 10 lakh units and is expected to increase to 12.5 lakh units by FY10. We recently launched Sony Vaio E series, designed for ease of use and perfect for everyday browsing, blogging or enjoying one’s digital media collection. The E series comes in vibrant, glossy and matte colours to add zing to the consumer’s lifestyle. For the ‘Go Vivid’ campaign, Kareena Kapoor’s exuberance and vivacity bring in a direct connect to the vibrancy of Vaio E colours. Surveys by our consumer research team have come up with very positive results on this association.”

Talking of vibrant colours, Samsung has also extended its Corby (mobile phone brand) colours to a range of its laptops. “And we are on the verge of launching a higher end, ‘stylish’ series meant for the consumer market. It will flaunt a fluid design,” said Yadav.

The other recent advertising is Lenovo —remember the son holding on to the father’s leg and getting dragged along? All his demands get rejected till he asks for a Lenovo laptop, something the father agrees to without any hesitation.

Rahul Agarwal, marketing director (acting) and ED, Lenovo India, explained, “The campaign is for positioning our Lenovo Idea range on making life more fun. Our primary target are 18-24-year-olds in the consumer segment.” He added that the ad was based on an India insight that fathers do not consider a computer for their children an extravagance, believing it will help in their education.

You may also recall the ‘ME’ ad campaign released by HCL for its ME range, which promote personalised laptop consumption. The industry says consumer-oriented ads will increase further.

The clamber for market share is getting aggressive. Dell is challenging market leader HP’s position, having even surpassed its laptop shipments in the last quarter of calendar 2009 and again, in the second quarter of 2010, according to IDC. HP will fight back. Its first quarter 2010 shares had placed it at the top. All other brands are also looking at increasing sales and market shares by the end of fiscal 2010. Notebook