Sales figures fiddled, Toshiba claims

Research firm IDC is playing down allegations by Toshiba that some vendors are inflating their sales figures in the cut-throat Australia-New Zealand notebook market.

Toshiba's general manager for Australia and New Zealand, Mark Whittard, made the claim at a Toshiba product launch in Auckland. He suggests that part of the reason for Toshiba's fall from the number one spot in both consumer and business notebook sales is because some vendors aren't being truthful in reporting their figures.

"We know because we make the optical drives and the hard drives that these guys use and when we count up the orders we've received and compare them with the figures IDC is quoting, something's amiss."

Whittard says Toshiba, which finished 2005 third behind Acer Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co., also didn't move quickly enough into the fastest growing market segment - low-cost, entry-level notebooks.

"We didn't have a sub-$1000 notebook because we couldn't see any way to make one without compromising our quality or after-sales service. Now we can and we're going to get into that market place."

But IDC New Zealand senior analyst Liam Gunson says there is no evidence that vendors are inflating their figures.

"We do check the numbers they give us against the reseller channel and also with figures given at a regional level to make sure there's no problem."

Gunson says occasionally there are discrepancies between two sets of figures but there's usually a good reason for that, such as overlapping time frames or sales being counted in a different country.

"It's not to try to fudge the figures."

Gunson says Acer, for example, had a very strong third quarter last year in New Zealand and shipped a large volume of notebooks.

"But in the fourth quarter it came back quite a bit so we take that to mean the channel is well stocked now."

Whittard also predicts the death of the desktop PC within three to five years.

"All the reasons for having a desktop are gone. It used to be that the price difference was huge and that desktops got the new processors and bigger hard drives first. That's not the case any more. Intel's just launched its new processors for the notebook ahead of the desktop."

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