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After exceeding its own predictions concerning XPC small form-factor systems’ shipments growth, famous PC barebone maker Shuttle Computer predicts further growth in own XPC sales next year as well as up to 25% expansion of the mini-barebone market in 2004. But are those expectations that positive for other makers of SFF PCs?

Shuttle said in an interview to DigiTimes web-site that its XPC shipments this year will be between 550 and 600 thousands of units, 50 to 100 thousands more than originally predicted, and a 120% to 140% growth from the last year’s 250 thousands of Shuttle SFF PCs. The company shipped 373 thousands of its mini-barebones in the first three quarters of this year. However, the demand for small form-factor PCs from both clone and OEM markets is likely to push sales of XPCs up to 55 thousands per month in November and December, about 10 thousands more than Shuttle typically estimates.

Other well-known barebone manufacturers, such as MSI and IWILL, are not really pleased with their SFF systems’ sales. Earlier this year it transpired that those companies ship approximately 10 thousands of mini-barebones per month, substantially less compared to Shuttle’s results.

Market Intelligence Center (MIC) based in Taiwan predicts that share of mini-barebone computers among all desktops shipped this year will be about 1.5% – that is more than 1.60 million of units. Roughly 30% of the market is occupied by Shuttle, while the remaining tens of companies, including MSI, IWILL, Soltek, Gigabyte, Biostar, ASUS, ECS, ABIT, FIC and loads of others, share the remaining 60% or about a million of units.

MIC predicts that next year SFF mini-barebone shipments will reach 1.9 million of units, growing about 20% to 25%. At the same time, Shuttle plans to increase its sales of barebones to 750 thousands per year, or 25% - 27% more than in 2003. As a result, keeping in mind that more and more new players enter the mini-barebone SFF market, shipments of other companies are not going to rise tremendously next year despite of the market growth.

The DIY sector currently accounts for about 90% to 95% of all XPC shipments. Shuttle believes that the OEM/ODM markets will consume larger part of SFF systems sometime in 2005. In fact, some desktops from the world’s largest manufacturers sometime resemble SFF systems from Taiwanese companies, hence, some makers may concentrate of OEM/ODM markets just now. Unfortunately, the vast majority of SFF systems are not enough cost-effective for large OEMs, hence, those companies prefer to get mainboards, cases and other components separately to maintain a flexible inventory model. As soon as mini-barebone computers become less expensive, both consumer and OEMs will pay more attention to such options. However, the SFF will not be as lucrative for manufacturers, as now.

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