updated 08:35 am EDT, Wed October 15, 2008
HP Said Bullying Suppliers
HP could be trying to cement its position in notebooks by shutting at least one competitor out of supply deals, according to a controversial claim by southeast Asian industry sources. The American PC maker is allegedly demanding that its contract manufacturers refuse orders from ASUS and is said to be punishing those that take the latter's orders by reducing its own orders at these companies, hurting their overall business. The threat is supposedly prompted by ASUS' goal of becoming the fourth-largest notebook builder worldwide, which may eat into HP's estimated lead in worldwide PC sales.
The need has already been questioned by others in the industry, who argue that HP doesn't need to hinder an already small player in the field and that HP has larger competitors to worry about with suppliers in the area, such as Acer and Lenovo. In a notable example, Quanta is said to supply Apple and HP equally with notebooks and so isn't favoring one over the other.
HP has primarily come under threat from ASUS through the rise of netbooks, which were largely invented with the launch of the Eee PC and are still led by the ASUS-made line. The company participates in the field with the Mini-Note but is still a relatively small influence. Additionally, the recent global economic crisis triggered by US housing problems is widely recognized as having shrunk growth in the market, forcing tougher competition for the existing market rather than appealing to new users.
ASUS has so far said it's unaware of any manipulation of suppliers, while HP's Taiwan-area branch has declined comment.