The market for netbooks or mini-notebooks is still expanding, with shipments expected to reach 58 million units in 2010, as consumers and business users continue to look for low-cost computing alternatives, according to a report from research firm ABI.
In 2009, netbook shipments topped 36 million units, which was higher that ABI's original forecast of 35 million.
Now, in 2010, ABI is calling for netbook shipments to hit 58 million units by the end of the year. However, the research firm does see the emergence of media tablets, such as the Apple iPad and the so-called "Hurricane" from Hewlett-Packard, as having an impact on the netbook market.
"We expect the netbook market to fragment according to different regional value propositions," ABI analyst Jeff Orr wrote in the May 17 report. "Functionality will be added to mainstream netbook products while at the same time an entry-level netbook solution will grow, with the aim of targeting some large emerging markets (including China and India) where PC penetration is still quite low."
While the market is still very new for these new-style tablets, ABI is calling for shipments to total about 8 million units in 2010. However, those predictions are based on Apple's statements that it has already shipped about 1 million iPads so far.
For now, ABI predicts that the presence of these new tablets will slow the netbook market to a compound annual growth rate of 23 percent.
For the past three years, netbook sales have helped the PC industry, especially when the U.S. recession hit in late 2008. Since that time, the PC industry has started to return, thanks to sales of laptops, netbooks and a new class of ultrathin, ultraportable notebooks that use cutting-edge Intel and Advanced Micro Devices chips.
In the coming months, both Intel and AMD plan to roll out new platforms to support an entire new generation of netbooks. Intel plans to start offering dual-core Atom processors for netbooks, while AMD plans to enter the market with its Fusion chips, which combine the x86 processor and graphics on the same piece of silicon.