updated 06:00 pm EDT, Thu October 16, 2008
Notebook market strong
DisplaySearch, a marketing forecast company, anticipates the notebook PC market to remain strong for the remainder of 2008 and into 2009, while other industries will struggle through the economic slump. Many customers have been replacing their desktop systems with notebooks, creating a trend that the analysis expects to continue. Another primary factor, the popularity of mini-notebooks, has been figured into the numbers. The company expects the mini devices to grow by 23 percent quarter to quarter and 38 percent year to year for the third quarter of 2008.
Although the mini notebooks have been sold for years, the market is considered to be truly emerging now, as the prices have dropped and more manufacturers are releasing new models. Asus was one company that focused on the segment, with the Eee PC, which was released last year when the entire market shipped less than 1 million units. DisplaySearch anticipates that number to jump to 14 million by the end of 2008.
The success of the market is difficult to predict with any certainty, and other analysts have produced significantly different expectations. Gartner, another IT research company, produced a report in August that only expects 5 million mini-notebook units for 2008.
Although many manufacturers have been jumping on the bandwagon, others have stayed with traditional desktops and larger notebooks. Apple CEO Steve Jobs recently said "that's a nascent market that is just being started" during a question and answer session after the new MacBook event earlier this week, adding "we'll see how it goes."
With the near term unpredictability of the economy, many consumers are anticipating spending less on holiday shopping. A recent ChangeWave survey showed that only 14 percent of people are planning on spending more on consumer electronics, while 40 percent said they will spend less.
It is difficult to tell how this might affect mini notebooks, as some consumers might not buy any new computer at all. On the other hand, some that were going to buy a more expensive full size model might be attracted to the lower price of the mini-notebooks, possibly cannibalizing the notebook segment.
"Almost all of the Tier 1 PC brands have entered, or plan to enter, the mini-note market," said John Jacobs, Director of Notebook Market Research for DisplaySearch. "We expect the mini-note market to settle at approximately 16 percent share of the notebook PC market by 2011." The company predicts that the combined number of shipped notebooks and mini notebooks to surpass 153 million units in 2008.