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New gen laptops pick up pace for tech savvy Korean consumers

Normal traditional laptops may not be attractive enough to appeal to the more tech savvy consumers these days. The latest and more sophisticated laptop models such as the ultra-thin and hybrid types which come packed with advanced features in slimmer frames are becoming increasingly popular with Korean consumers, making up 24 percent of total laptop volume sales—a 170 percent surge from the previous year.

A Gfk study shows that nearly one in every four laptops sold in the last 12 months in Korea was either an ultra-thin or a hybrid model. Nearly 432,000 ultra-thin notebook and hybrid PCs were sold in the country in the last 12 months. Ultra-thin notebooks—defined by its height of 21 mm or less and weight of 2.3 kg and below have been garnering an increasing share of the local laptop market and in the last 12 months sold around 373,000 units worth nearly USD 440 million.

“This lightweight segment is a hit thanks to its compact size which is making it one of the key growth engines driving sales of laptops,” said Moon Kwon, Managing Director for GfK in Korea. “Its battery life and full functionality of a regular laptop means users are paying more for its portability, which seems to be a non-issue with many Koreans who are forking out around 26 percent more for it.”

As with many other tech products, price erosion in the ultra-thin segment has been apparent, lending to its increasing affordability with time. Prices since the first such product became available in the market around 2007 has been gradually declining—from its initial average price of USD 1,468 to USD 1,179 in the latest report; translating to a price drop of nearly 20 percent.

Yet another product which was launched recently and has been turning in a stunning report is the hybrid PC, which is a notebook that comes with a complete operating system and characterized by its lack of or a detachable keyboard. Between April 2011 and March 2012, such laptops registered a spike in sales by over 800 percent in volume and 600 percent in value; totaling almost USD 67 million in worth.

“Hybrid PCs tend to be an appealing option for those who cannot decide whether to get a regular laptop or a tablet, since its versatility lets the user enjoy the best of both worlds by allowing it to be used as a tablet, or plug in a keyboard when required to,” explained Kwon.

The growing consumer interest in these segments has correspondingly been attracting more local and international manufacturers into the market to cater to its developing needs. However, homegrown brands, with their lower pricings managed to dominate the market in 2012, contributing 77 and 93 percent to total ultra-thin notebook and hybrid PC sales value respectively.

“Overall notebook sales have largely stabilized in Korea but it is interesting to highlight that these are the gadgets which have managed to continue securing the interest of consumers even as competition from other mobile devices intensifies,” stated Kwon. “We can surely anticipate the introduction of more exciting and innovative features in the near future as these segments continue to develop and mature,” he concluded.

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