updated 10:30 am EDT, Wed May 13, 2009
Netbook Demand Crashing
Although netbooks propped up PC sales in the first quarter of 2009, actual demand for the systems has crashed compared to the fall, an upcoming study from DisplaySearch says. Although the netbook field itself has grown over five times (556 percent) from year to year, shipments dropped 26 percent between last quarter of 2008 and the first this year. The drop is steeper than for regular notebooks, which themselves dropped 24 percent.
The analysts also observe that the market is quickly consolidating around Acer, whose Aspire One notebooks suffered the least loss with an 18 percent drop. Its close rival ASUS, however, plummeted 47 percent between fall and winter while Lenovo and Toshiba also dropped sharply at 50 and 33 percent each. Dell was the only company to avoid shipping fewer systems but saw its growth flat between seasons and has just a small fraction of the market versus Acer, ASUS and others.
Notebook research director John Jacobs argues not only that the systems artificially softened the industry's PC losses, shrinking them from 19 percent to 3 percent, but that the rise in notebook sales isn't necessarily linked to the economy; some buyers were likely opting for netbooks when they would have otherwise bought more expensive systems, he says.
No predictions are given as to whether signs of improvement in the economy or other factors are likely to affect netbook sales. IDC in its report mentioned that first quarter notebook shipments dropped mostly for those companies that focused on high-end notebooks, like Apple, but mainly due to poor economic conditions. The company has so far refused to join the netbook market due to both profit margins and sub-par hardware.