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jmke 17th March 2004 08:37

Barebone PC Maker Becomes PC Company
A company known mostly for its small form-factor barebone personal computers and mainboards is going to start offering build-to-order XPC systems to its customers in the United States. The move has potential to reshuffle the PC market in the US, following Shuttle’s massive success with its SFF systems during the recent couple of years.

Starting from April 2004, Shuttle will offer a full line of build-to-order XPC configurations from its direct system website. Customers will be able choose from a wide range of options to create a customized personal or business computer. The new computer systems will also be available through consumer electronics, PC and mass merchant retailers later this year. The Shuttle XPC is currently available as a barebones at online retailers, in Best Buy, and Fry’s Electronics.

The first Shuttle XPC emerged in 2001 and was considered as a rather exotic type of PCs. However, because of small form-factor, style, quiet operation and upgradeability, XPC cubes from Shuttle quickly became very popular among "advanced" end-users, who build computers themselves. With availability of build-to-order XPCs, not really technically savvy customers will also be able to use Shuttle XPCs.

Shuttle’s XPC shipments were between 550 and 600 thousand of units in 2003, a 120% to 140% growth from 2002’s 250 thousand of Shuttle SFF PCs. Nevertheless, other well-known barebone manufacturers, such as MSI and IWILL, are not really pleased with their SFF systems’ sales. Last 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 estimated that share of mini-barebone computers among all desktops shipped last year is about 1.5% – that is more than 1.60 million of units. Roughly 30% of the market was 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 also predicted that in 2004 SFF mini-barebone shipments would 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.

The vast majority of Shuttle XPCs is shipped to DIY market today, while only an insignificant part of such computers is supplied to OEMs and ODMs.

“With the XPC, Shuttle started a major phenomenon in the enthusiast and DIY computer user space. By offering complete XPC systems, Shuttle is able to extend that success into the mainstream PC market, and simultaneously generate a greater demand for Shuttle XPC resellers and system integrators,” said Cameron Rogers, Director of Marketing for Shuttle.

Shuttle will offer configure-to-order system solutions for the Home/Home Office, Business, Media Center, and Gaming/Content Creation. Retail pricing will range in price between $799 and $2999, depending on configuration. Upcoming personal computers from Shuttle will include the company’s own LCD monitors that are slated to be available with the new complete system solutions later this year.

The top-end gaming or content creation system uses standard desktop computer components and features an Intel Pentium 4 3.40GHz processor, has a 200GB hard drive, 1GB of memory, an ATI RADEON 9800 XT graphics card and a DVD+RW drive. The media center system features the silent and cool “Zen” XPC model, Microsoft's Windows Media Center Operating System and a TV tuner card with an anticipated MSRP of $999.

Shuttle will continue to develop and market its line of XPC barebones computers to end-users, resellers, distributors, and system integrators

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