We don’t talk much about laptop computers anymore. They are ubiquitous, but not exciting. But it seems the segment has finally reached a point where design, performance, and pricing are where the industry would have wanted it to be. In fact, this sweet point is something that helped the smartphone segment grow much faster a few years ago.
Why do I say this, though? I recently go to experience the new Asus laptops powered by AMD’s Ryzen processors. I was fascinated by how these devices all offered a thin form factor even though their pricing was under Rs 30,000. Remember, our standard laptops for the office and even college students are back-breakingly heavy devices which are also notoriously underpowered. I get the feeling this is set to change now. The thin ad powerful catchline, earlier reserved for the expensive ultrabooks, is almost becoming standard for brands like Asus which is easing off heavier laptops completely.
AMD India’s managing director sales Vinay Sinha says the way the Indian market is evolving, the young millennials, who are very pronounced in their technology preferences, love this choice. “It is the first time that we have a clear process of technology leadership over our competition. That is where we fit in very well: taking a leadership position with Asus in gaming and the thin category which is the fastest-growing segment.”
As per research firm IDC, AMD now has a 17.3 per cent market share in India with a three per cent gain in Q3 2019.
Asus, meanwhile, has a market share of 5.3 per cent, which appears small in comparison with market leader Lenovo’s 28.5 per cent. However, ASUS registered 43.6 per cent YoY growth to get to these numbers, its best numbers ever in India. The Taiwanese company has been seeing major success in the gaming segment as well as in driving online sales.
Arnold Su, Business Head, PC, Gaming & Commercial Products, ASUS India underlines how the number of gaming laptops sold in India has gone up 250,000 from just 40,000 two years ago. “Worldwide, these numbers grow maybe 5 per cent year over year, but in India, it doubles every year,” he explains. The demand for gaming PCs, strangely might be driven by the popularity of smartphones. “Once they experience mobile games for about six months, they definitely want to buy a gaming laptop for a better experience,” says Su.
But the smartphone exposure is also making potential laptop buyers much more demanding. They are unwilling to wait for computers to load, and are unhappy with heavy devices. Sinha says the higher disposable incomes of the younger buyers means they are choosing “aesthetically better looking and faster” laptops. But this also means they are being more choosy despite the abundance of choice. Jaipal Singh of IDC India explains: “As we see consumers shifting entertainment and content consumption to smartphones, PCs are becoming a conscious purchase in India. Consumers are comfortable to wait for discounts and offers while looking to buy or upgrade their PCs.”
Interestingly, the PC market in India has seen some revival in Q3 2019, up 15.8 per cent compared to the year before. The three million units were driven to a part by at least one big institutional purchase, but companies are also preparing for the end of support for Windows 7. A lot of these new purchases might have to take into consideration the requirement of the young users who make up a substantial chunk of the workforce everywhere. And that is clearly the opportunity Asus and other OEMs are waiting to tap.