Report: Apple iPad devouring netbook sales; iPod touch next?

The netbook market is being devoured by the Apple iPad, according to a new report.

The netbook market is being devoured by the Apple iPad, according to a new report.

A new chart issued Thursday by Morgan Stanley's Katy Huberty in a report to clients shows the impact of the iPad and other tablets on the broader gadget market -- and it looks like the netbook growth curve is falling off into oblivion.

According to the chart, sales growth of low-cost, low-powered netbooks peaked last summer, with an amazing 641 percent year-over-year growth rate.

But after January -- the end of the holiday shopping season and the beginning of the march of new products, courtesy of the Consumer Electronics Show -- growth dropped, big time.

It dropped again in April.

Yes, as you might have been guessing as you read this: the iPad was announced in January (albeit the 27th) and launched in April.

Philip Elmer-DeWitt notes on Fortune's Apple 2.0 blog that the theory isn't all that far-fetched.

He writes:

In support of her theory, she offers a Morgan Stanley/Alphawise survey conducted in March that found that 44% of U.S. consumers who were planning to buy an iPad said that they were buying it instead of a netbook or notebook computer.

What other devices did that survey suggest might get cannibalized by the iPad? According to Exhibit 2, below, the iPod touch is next in line.

The diagram in question:

I certainly buy into the theory that slate tablet-style devices are relegating netbooks back to a niche audience, though I'm not sure if consumers have simply had enough of the devices (i.e. the fad has run its course) versus the iPad actually taking away interest.

The iPod touch theory is also fair, but it won't completely cannibalize those sales, since the iPod touch is a web browser to some and a music player to others. For example, I use my iPod touch for both features, so it's unlikely that I won't buy a replacement iPod touch just because I may buy an iPad.

(Plugging headphones into the iPad? Possible, but not convenient for listening on the morning commute.)

Apple iPad: netbook killer, iPod cannibalizer or both?