Report: 1 in 5 portable computers shipped are netbooks

Despite the fact that many have predicted the end of the netbook era, the popularity of the miniature notebooks keeps growing.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor

Despite the fact that many have predicted the end of the netbook era, the popularity of the miniature notebooks keeps growing.

Netbooks accounted for 22.5 percent of all portable computer shipments worldwide in the second quarter, according to market forecaster DisplaySearch, a part of the NPD Group.

That's up from just 5.6 percent a year ago, and 17.8 percent in the first quarter of 2009.

Outgrowing larger notebooks by nearly 2 to 1 (40 percent quarter over quarter, compared to 22 percent), netbooks are poised to overtake traditionally-sized notebooks in units shipped.

Despite their success, netbooks aren't nearly as lucrative for manufacturers, so revenues may actually be less overall.

From the report:

In many regions, telecom providers have been offering subsidized mini-notes for several quarters, which helped propel growth. In Western European countries, a number of telecoms are subsidizing 100% of the price of the mini-note when the customer signs a two-year data plan contract. In North America, telecom providers are aggressively marketing mini-notes with a two-year data plan contract, while some cable providers are offering heavily discounted mini-notes as an incentive to sign a contract for cable TV, internet and phone service. The incentives have been quite successful in Europe. In North America, these promotions were only test marketed in Q2’09, so there is insufficient data to determine if they will achieve the same measure of success.

Mini-notes have been a significant contributor to the growth in the portable PC market as their very attractive price points make owning a secondary computer viable for many consumers.

“Mini-note PC screen sizes have increased steadily, from 7.0" to 8.9” and then to 10.2". Some panel makers and brands are promoting 11.6" mini-note displays, leading to an overlap with ultraportable notebooks. However, the higher prices of these larger netbooks diminish their cost advantage. In addition to many other key players in the supply chain, Microsoft indicated it is their desire to increase the ASP of mini-notes. A significant increase to the ASP of mini-notes may deter consumers that are predominantly using mini-notes as secondary PCs,” said John F. Jacobs, Director of Notebook Market Research.

The report also provided a global breakdown by region, with interesting results: Europe leads the world in netbooks, with a 32.9 percent share in the second quarter, followed by North America at 26.6 percent and China at 18.8 percent.

(Latin America claims just 6.7 percent, Japan just 6 percent and Asia Pacific 9.2 percent.)

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