Tablets are the most often mentioned “problem” of the notebook industry, but they are just one of several factors that will impact the end-user demand for them during the first three months of 2013.
Looking back, it isn't that hard to accept the high probability of laptop demand falling during the first quarter of next year.
Even if Digitimes hadn't stepped up to relay the concerns of PC vendors and suppliers, recent history would have painted the same picture.
Laptop demand, not counting netbooks, was slipping even before the tablet industry took off.
Apple's iPad, the following Android and Windows slates and, most recently, Windows RT tablets only compounded the so-called problem.
Right now, the general consensus is that the January-March 2013 time frame will be even less lucrative for notebook makers than usual.
The first quarter of the year is usually a slow season, since many are still “recovering” from the spending sprees of the holidays.
This time, notebook vendors will have to cope with Windows 7 notebook oversupply, and offer as many price cuts as they can.
Installing Windows 8 on them will help, but only just, as owners of Windows XP/Vista/7 systems don't really need a performance upgrade, so they don't mind buying a new phone or tablet instead of a new PC.
According to the aforementioned report from Digitimes, some high-profile vendors are dropping prices to under $399 / 399 Euro for models based on dual-core Intel CPUs. That's much lower than netbooks used to sell for.
Meanwhile, laptops built with Intel Core i5 central processing units sell for $599 / 599 Euro.
Coupled with the poor mortherboard sales during the entirety of 2012, this all boils down to a general reduction in consumer interest in personal computers of all kinds. There is little chance of a rebound in the near future.