Samsung’s been making notebooks for some time. Unlike their smartphone and tablet business, Samsung isn’t a major notebook player, even though they do ship some interesting machines. Not just the low-cost Chromebooks (Samsung’s pretty efficient at those), but stuff like the high-end Series 9 notebook which tries to be a Windows MacBook Air. But as Hewlett-Packard, the world’s leading PC maker, announced plans to spin off its hardware business and focus on software and services, Samsung is reportedly interested to take up HP’s PC biz. The Korean consumer electronics giant is apparently making preparations and has already talkd to contract manufacturers Quanta Computer, Compal Electronics and Pegatron Technology “to evaluate the possibility of outsourcing notebook orders”DigiTimes reports this morning.

The sources pointed out that Samsung’s notebooks are all manufactured at its plants in China. Although the company had contacted Taiwan-based notebook makers several times about outsourcing orders before, there was no result. However, Samsung, earlier this month, invited Quanta, Compal and Pegatron to its headquarters in South Korea with a rather cautious attitude, which the sources believe was an indication that Samsung might be already in preparation for expanding its business.

DigiTimes also warns HP’s PC spin off plan may result in fierce price wars as HP begins an aggressive clearing of its inventory (can you say ‘fire sale’?). In addition to filling the void in market, Samsung might also acquire HP’s computer business and their customers. So, after smartphones and tablets, notebooks could be the next battleground for Samsung and its key customer Apple. If the Galaxy series of smartphones and tablets is an indication, further  ‘copycat’ accusations seem unavoidable. Also, Samsung…

…could be after volume here, not necessarily targetting the most lucrative segment of the computer biz Apple controls. Samsung is projected to ship 10 million PC units this year. Add HP’s forty million PCs in 2011 and suddenly Samsung becomes the #1 computer maker in the world. Yes, the margins are crazy thin and a joke compared to Apple’s, but Samsung has a rather strong vertically integrated supply chain, which lets them reduce bill of material by using their own components, such as memory, secondary chips, displays, batteries and so forth. Apple, on the other hand, has been steadily growing sales of Mac computers and broke through the ten percent US market share for the first time since the early 1990s. The company is rumored to be bringing to market soon a “radically different” Mac notebook that may incorporate custom chips (Intel is feeling the heat), including an ARM-based design allowing for more power efficient and thinner designs than today’s MacBook Air models.

According to a DisplaySearch survey, Apple has become the world’s leading PC manufacturer by units, if you count tablets as PCs (welcome to the post-PC world). Apple’s Mac and iPad sales combined accounted for a 21.4 percent share and passed HP by four million units, based on June quarter sales of 9.25 million iPads and four million Macs. The usually reliable Seeking Alpha analyst Jason Schwarz says Apple could sell an estimated 22 million iPads this holiday quarter. Mac sales grew 14.6 percent worldwide versus the industry average of 2.7 percent, marking the 21st consecutive quarter in which Mac shipments growth outpaced the entire PC market.

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