Today's notebooks are sleek, stylish and eminently portable. They allow your small business to take the company on the road in the space of a carry-on bag. Now, for the first time ever, notebook (laptop) sales have surpassed desktop sales, according to research firm iSuppli.
In the third quarter of 2008, notebook PC shipments rose almost 40 percent compared with the same period of 2007 to reach 38.6 million units. Conversely, desktop PC shipments declined by 1.3 percent for the same period to 38.5 million units.
"Momentum has been building in the notebook market for some time, so it's not a complete surprise that shipments have surpassed those of desktops," said iSuppli principal analyst for compute platforms Matthew Wilkins. "However, this marks a major event in the PC market because it marks the start of the age of the notebook."
While Hewlett-Packard held onto its lead position in the third quarter of 2008, with shipments of 14.9 million units and a market share of 18.8 percent, Taiwan-based Acer was the big winner of the third quarter, which grew its unit shipment market share by 45 percent, and by 79 percent on a year-over-year basis.
"Acer shipped almost 3 million more notebooks in the third quarter than it did in the preceding quarter, with the majority of those 3 million being the company's netbook products," Wilkins noted. "Clearly, the company's netbook strategy is paying dividends, with Acer now trailing Dell by less than 2 percentage points of market share for all PCs."
Is the Desktop Dead for SMBs?
While the report certainly suggests the dawn of the ubiquitous notebook is upon us, small to midsize business owners should carefully consider moving from a desktop- to notebook-based business. Notebooks offer portability and come with much longer battery life and more features and power than ever before.
However, when notebooks aren't being toted around through airports and conferences, they often require peripherals like a full keyboard, larger monitor and a mouse for use in the office. On the road, additional components like Wi-Fi cards (although most laptops have built-in Wi-Fi these days, many do not include wide-area access, like broadband cards for AT&T or Verizon) and an extra battery can also add to your costs.
Another issue to keep in mind before purchasing a slew of notebooks is that they are frequently lost and can be easily damaged. Anyone who ever had their notebook ripped out from under their fingers by the harried Starbucks customer/stubborn power cord combo knows this.
The FBI's National Crime Information Center reported that the number of reported laptop thefts increased almost 48 percent over the last two years, to nearly 109,000 from 73,700. The Ponemon Institute recently released data estimating that 12,000 laptops are lost or stolen in U.S. airports every week. More alarmingly, the study indicated that after a data breach, almost one-third of the customers notified terminated their relationship with the company.
While losing the hardware is unfortunate, the Ponemon report suggests company information contained inside the notebook could cost your business much more. That's why Dell and Lenovo offer tracking and lock-down features on their notebook families. Starting in 2009, Lenovo ThinkPad notebook users can use an SMS text message to shut down a laptop that has been stolen or has been lost.