Report: Netbooks now one-fifth of portable PC shipments

DisplaySearch, a unit of the NPD Group, found that netbooks represented 22.2 of portable computers shipped worldwide in the second calendar quarter of 2009. That's up from 5.6 percent a year ago, and 17.8 percent in the first quarter of this year. The total notebook PC market exceeded 38 million, according to DisplaySearch's research.

Earlier this year, it looked like the netbook market might have peaked. But maybe not....

DisplaySearch, a unit of the NPD Group, found that netbooks represented 22.2 of portable computers shipped worldwide in the second calendar quarter of 2009. That's up from 5.6 percent a year ago, and 17.8 percent in the first quarter of this year. The total notebook PC market exceeded 38 million, according to DisplaySearch's research.

In its "Quarterly Notebook PC Shipment and Forecast Report," Display Search also noted that Asus, the pioneer in mini-note PC (netbook) space, "has been steadily losing share because Tier 1 brands like Acer, HP, Dell, Lenovo and Toshiba have become increasingly aggressive in this segment."

The report notes that a number of netbook vendors are delivering pricier netbook models with bigger screens (a trend Microsoft is attempting to keep in check by limiting the screen size of netbooks that will qualify for lower-per-copy pricing for Windows 7).

"In addition to many other key players in the supply chain, Microsoft indicated it is their desire to increase the ASP (average street price) of mini-notes, DisplaySearch reported. However, "a significant increase to the ASP of mini-notes may deter consumers that are predominantly using mini-notes as secondary PCs,” according to a DisplaySearch press release, quoting John F. Jacobs, Director of Notebook Market Research for DisplaySearch.

I am skeptical that Microsoft and some of its partners' attempt to introduce a new, pricier "ultra thin" category of Windows 7 alternatives to netbooks will take hold. We'll find out in less than two months, when Microsoft makes Windows 7 generally available and some of its PC partners introduce new Windows 7 form factors.