Despite analysts predicting the netbook market will grow more than 1,300 per cent this year, channel players have claimed the product will remain a niche offering in 2009.
Analyst DisplaySearch’s Quarterly Notebook PC Shipment and Forecast report predicts that 2008 netbook shipments will top 14 million units, up from less than one million last year. Worldwide shipments for the third quarter of 2008 were up by 160 per cent year on year and stood at 5.61 million.
DisplaySearch’s director of notebook market research, John Jacobs, predicted that netbooks will represent 16 per cent of the entire notebook market within three years.
“Worldwide demand is forecast to grow rapidly over the next few years with demand coming from a variety of sources, including early adopters and consumer and enterprise PC customers seeking a smaller or secondary notebook PC,” he said.
The world’s leading netbook vendor is Acer, which held 38.3 per cent of the market in Q3. Asus, which is widely credited with creating the market last year with the launch of its Eee PC, is eight points behind in second place.
HP, MSI and Dell round out the top five, but all have less than 10 per cent market share.
Stewart Hayward, commercial director of VAR Wstore, said that netbooks were likely to remain a niche product, especially for business-to-business resellers. “The netbook will become part of our offering, but it is not going to move revenue away from other areas,” he said.
“The market will continue to have significant growth over the next couple of years, but it will slow down over time. The pattern will be very similar to the launch of tablet PCs.”
Shaune Parsons, managing director of reseller Computer World Wales, said the low price of netbooks is appealing in the education space.
He also indicated that the release of models with Windows XP pre-installed had boosted the market, but added: “Netbooks will remain a niche product. For the customers with which we deal, it still lacks the power and flexibility of a standard notebook.”
Hayward also indicated that netbook’s success outside of the consumer space could be hampered by its lack of power.
“Out of every one hundred laptops we sell, two of them may be netbooks,” he said.
“People are seeing benefits and drawbacks; if you need access to email and spreadsheets it is not something you would look at.”
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