Will netbook growth hurt Apple's Macbook sales?

Will netbook growth hurt Apple's Macbook sales?

Summary: For a company like Apple, the colorful new iPod Nanos might be the hot product this quarter but laptop computers remain the financial bread and butter. Now, there's concern that there's trouble ahead for the notebook market.


For a company like Apple, the colorful new iPod Nanos might be the hot product this quarter but laptop computers remain the financial bread and butter. Now, there's concern that there's trouble ahead for the notebook market.

ThinkPanmure analyst Vijay Rakesh thinks there could be a slowdown on the horizon as sales of the smaller, ultraportable netbooks have started to gain some speed. The upshot: Netbooks are stealing share from laptops.  In a report, he trimmed estimates for  Apple, noting that the expected Macbook growth of 15-19 percent for the quarter could be high. He maintained a buy rating but lowered estimates for the fourth quarter, which ends on Sept. 30, as well as the first quarter, which ends Dec. 31. He notes, in his report:

Since the July-August timeframe the Macbook is completely out of the "top 5 Notebook category" at Amazon for the last three weeks straight, with netbooks dominating all the top 5. We believe this to be the effects of a more price-conscious consumer and a global slowdown... Our checks on AAPL indicate that while Mac Desktops and 3G iPhone sales have been doing well, the notebook market could be impacted in the peak back-to-school season with the entry of netbooks from Asustek, Acer, MSI, and DELL.

For Apple, estimates for the fourth quarter were lowered from $7.9 billion or $1.03 per share to $7.8 billion or 95 cents. For the first quarter, estimates were lowered from $11.5 billion, or $1.80 per share, to $10.8 billion, or $1.32.

Rakesh also trimmed estimates for Intel, though the netbook-notebook impact is a bit less obvious. Intel's Atom chip is what powers the netbook, so the company isn't left completely out in the cold. But Rakesh notes that Atom processors sell at much lower price points and carry thinner gross margins. Still, in an earnings call last quarter, Intel CEO Paul Otellini said he doesn't see the netbook market as cannibalizing notebook sales.

Topics: Intel, Apple, Enterprise Software, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility

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  • Most likely it will not

    as anyone that would want a netbook would be better serverd with a MacBook Air. ;)
    • MacBook ERROR.

      Sure, MacBook Air for the kids: twice the size, three times the price, and more compromised with fewer ports. Good one, I'm laughing.
    • Did you forget the /sarcasm maybe?

      One could buy three netbooks for the price of one Air. Netbooks fill the need for small and light, the Air isn't small, it's thin. When the Air is open on a airplane tray, it's the same footprint as far more capable machines.
  • RE: Will netbook growth hurt Apple's Macbook sales?

    I was not looking at MacBook Air but at similarly thin and light Lenovo and other brands. Until I saw the Acer One. Windows XP, 1GB RAM, 120GB HD, 1.6GHz Intel processor. Works better and faster than my HP dual-core running Vista, at one-third the weight. With 3 USB ports, two SD slots, WiFi, ethernet, it does everything I need it to and for which I wanted a really portable machine. At just 2 lbs, it's far lighter than any notebook including the Air.
    Had I been looking at the Air, it would have lost, just as the 3-lb $2000 Lenovo lost out to a lighter and far cheaper machine.

    The Air is now "old", people won't be getting it to impress their friends. any more. In terms of usability, affordability and portability, this little Acer netbook is a force to contend with, especially at the price I paid !
    • RE: Acer One

      I like the Dell Mini 9, I just wish they had more colors. I would really like a Red one...

      I think Apple must be working on something in the Netbook range of size and features, however since they are so proprietary, I don't think they will be able to get anywhere close to the Dell / Acer / Asus price range.
  • I'm going to look in my crystal ball and...

    I predict Apple will have a netbook out within the next year.

    Their branding is all about slick, compact devices. The question really is how could they not have the thinnest lightest most super netbook out for the fans in the next year?

    Maybe it will be the next Macbook Air, shrunk to a 10" screen... or they'll call it a "MacBook Ether" or some such. Heh.
    • Only Problem

      If Apple made a netbook it still would be 1200 dollars.... because the chic of it...