Netbooks not dead despite media tablet blitzkrieg

10 Nov 2010

Netbook computers have been hit a glancing blow by the arrival of tablet computers but the market for these devices is not dead yet, IDC warned in its latest forecast for these computers.

One year ago, mini notebook PCs, or netbooks, were seen by many as the device that would fundamentally reshape the PC industry.

Today, that expectation is being laid upon the media tablet, as exemplified by the Apple iPad. While many feel that media tablets will bring about the death of mini notebooks, a new International Data Corporation (IDC) forecast shows that a viable market will continue to drive growth for these highly portable computing devices.

“IDC does not expect media tablets to bring about the death of mini notebooks, although there’s no question that the focus of attention has shifted to these newer devices,” said Bob O’Donnell, vice-president, Clients and Displays.

“Given the range of capabilities and price points, it is very likely that consumers will acquire these devices in various combinations, simply delaying the purchase of a new notebook, for example, to add a media tablet or mini notebook as a companion to their main computing device.

“Similarly, the arrival of media tablets has done little to diminish the demand for mini notebooks in the educational market, particularly in developing countries where large government initiatives are gaining steam in the post-recession economy,” O’Donnell said.

In response to the market shift caused by the introduction of the media tablet form factor this year, IDC expects the mini notebook category to continue growing but at a somewhat slower pace.

There’s life in netbooks yet

Worldwide mini notebook shipments are forecast to be 37.8 million units in 2010, up 10.3pc from 2009. Over the next four years, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the worldwide mini notebook market will be 4.3pc, topping out at 42.4 million units shipped in 2014.

On a regional basis, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), and Middle East and Africa (MEA) represent the strongest potential markets for mini notebooks.

The five-year CAGR in these regions will hover near or above 20pc, as many of the governments in these regions follow through on large educational initiatives to bring mini notebooks into the classroom.

In contrast, the market for mini notebooks in the US will experience growth in the low single digits over the forecast period while the Western European market is expected to decline by 11pc from 2009-2014.

The leading mini notebook vendors continue to be Acer and ASUS: combined, these two vendors captured 42.6pc of the worldwide market in 2009 and grew their share slightly in the first half of 2010 (1H10).

HP has continued to be the No 3 mini notebook vendor worldwide for the past 18 months. Meanwhile, the No 4 vendor in 2009, Dell, slipped to the No 5 spot in 1H10, overtaken by Samsung.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years