updated 09:15 am EDT, Thu September 30, 2010
DisplaySearch says iPad stalling netbook growth
A new DisplaySearch study today both confirmed and predicted that the iPad was having a cooling effect on netbooks. Breaking down netbooks by category, it showed the 10-inch netbook's sales having dropped this spring by eight percent year-over-year after more than two years of growth. In small netbooks, below nine inches, the effect was even more dramatic as the category plummeted 89 percent to account for just 100,000 PCs worldwide.
The effect was such that the entire netbook category fell 14 percent and would only be saved by including the iPad, whose nearly 3.3 million sales would immediately flip the category back to 29 percent growth if it were included.
A forecast also suggested that the iPad might not necessarily sink netbook market share but that it was blunting any hopes for the category to keep growing beyond the industry average. It would grow above the 16 percent average for the second half of 2010, at 29 percent, but by the end of 2011 would have fallen slightly behind a 24 percent average.
Although other tablets are due to arrive, Apple's model was seen by the analyst team as controlling the segment for at least the next year and taking market share from netbooks and ultraportables, especially in well-developed regions where many already have a computer. The company's edge would come simply from differentiation, DisplaySearch's notebook research lead John Jacobs said: where netbooks were just cheap Windows notebooks, tablets were now increasingly based on ARM or x86 merged with a mobile OS, such as Android, iOS or webOS.
Price gaps have also affected the results. With cost differences between a netbook or ultraportable and a full-size notebook closing to as little as $60, there was little incentive to get one of the smaller, slower portables without an obvious difference. The iPad is much lighter and smaller, while many who now want something more have been opting for 15-inch and larger models instead.