Notebook PC Market Passes 38 Million Units, Driven by Netbooks

Tier-1 brands such as Acer, HP, Dell, Lenovo and Toshiba have been aggressive in the netbook market, which helped the total notebook PC market to post strong quarter-to-quarter and year-to-year growth, says a new report from DisplaySearch.

The total notebook PC market performed well in the second quarter of 2009, with unit numbers passing 38 million and mini-notebook PCs, or netbooks, significantly contributing to those results, states an Aug. 31 report from DisplaySearch.
The netbook market grew 40 percent quarter to quarter, with its share of total portable computer shipments rising from 17.8 percent in the first quarter of the year to 22.2 percent in the second quarter. Display Search notes that Asus, which offered one of the first netbook models, is losing market share to bigger name brands such as Acer, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Lenovo and Toshiba, which have all begun offering the low-cost netbooks. The netbooks have been a saving grace during the global recession, continuing to post positive numbers as overall PC shipments fell.
Even mobile phone maker Nokia announced recently that it would enter the netbook market, with the Intel-based Nokia Booklet 3G.
Notebook PCs, which accounted for 82.2 percent of portable computer shipments in the first quarter of the year, dipped to 77.8 percent in the second.
The netbooks' low price points have been said to be "cannibalizing" notebook sales, and some have worried that consumers will use the netbooks as primary computers - instead of as secondary computers for travel and convenience, as manufacturers intended - particularly as the netbooks' screen sizes have increased.
"Mini-note PC screen sizes have increased steadily, from 7 inches to 8.9 inches and then to 10.2 inches. Some panel makers and brands are promoting 11.6-inch mini-note displays, leading to an overalap with ultraportable notebooks," said John F. Jacobs, DisplaySearch director of notebook market research, in a statement.
"However, the higher prices of these larger netbooks diminish their cost advantage," Jacobs added. "In addition to many other key players in the supply chain, Microsoft indicated it is their desire to increase the [average selling price] of mini-notes. A significant increase to the ASP of mini-notes may deter consumers that are predominantly using min-notes as secondary PCs."
DisplaySearch reports that netbook growth is higher than notebook PC penetration in Latin America and Greater China, where first-time PC users aren't likely to need the full feature sets of a notebook. Latin America accounted for 6.7 percent of netbook shipments in the quarter, versus 4.8 percent of notebook PCs, while China took 18.6 percent of netbooks and 13.8 percent of notebook PCs.
The largest percentage of netbooks, 32.9 percent, went to EMEA - Europe, Middle East and Africa - where telecoms and cable providers have been offering subsidized pricing for netbooks along with service contracts, a strategy that has proved "quite successful," according to DisplaySearch.
North America received 26.6 percent of netbook shipments and 30.2 percent of notebook PCs. And while U.S. carriers, such as AT&T and Verizon, and high-speed Internet providers such as Qwest, are offering similar netbook enticements, DisplaySearch notes in the statement that "these promotions were only test marketed in [the second quarter of 2009], so there is insufficient data to determine if they will achieve the same measure of success."