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Netbook demand crashes in early 2009

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.

By Electronista Staff
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  1. LEStudios


    Joined: Jul 2008


    Need something real!

    To me a iPhone can do the most advertised features of a Netbook.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001



    So, notebook shipments dropped 24%, but netbook shipments dropped 26%, so that means demand has crashed?

  1. isaaclimdc

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2006


    Apple was right!

    So Tim Cook and Phil Schiller were right all along then! I think it would be smart if Apple gave this market a miss.

  1. slider

    Mac Elite

    Joined: Oct 1999


    Is it really surprising

    It was more of a novelty. Sure, the idea sounds good, but it's more than you need if you just want to check email, surf the web, etc. and it's underpowered to do anything really productive. I'm sure there's a group that this device fits in well with, but I think most people either recognized the deficiency of the netbooks and decided not to purchase, or purchased one and will probably not repeat the purchase. There are other devices (not just iPhone and iPod Touch) that will allow for what most people who might want a netbook, but in a much smaller package. Again, I think there is probably a market, but not if every computer maker on earth has an offering. Sometimes a bargain is not a bargain.

  1. BelugaShark

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2007


    not convenient enough

    I considered buying a netbook on several occasions but I always came to the same conclusion: If I were to buy a netbook it would be for portability; however, it's not portable enough to leave my backpack at home, and if I were to take my backpack, then I'd rather carry a laptop.

  1. IvoryTower

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2006


    nice in certain environs

    Scooped up a refurbed EEEPC 901a on eBay for $165 shipped. Shortcomings aside (keyboard is TINY, funky trackpad button, slow stock SSD), it fits well in the kitchen environ where a lot of time is spent, space is limited and web access is a very-nice-to-have. That said, this may be one of the few scenarios I'd consider spending ~$150-200 on such a device...outside of that, an iPhone/iTouch or small-ish standard lappy (with a usable KBD, preferably) would make better options.

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