posted by Thom Holwerda on Wed 18th Feb 2009 11:46 UTC
IconWe already knew netbooks were popular, but according to new data by research firm IDC, they are even more popular in Europe than we anticipated. The firm says that in 2008, netbooks sales accounted for 30% of total consumer portable sales in Europe, the Middle-East, and Africa. A big contributing factor are the telecommunication providers in Europe who subsidise netbooks.

The 30% figure does need a bit of sidenote, since netbooks make up 30% of consumer portable sales. Add in the business market, and this figure drops to 20%, indicating that businesses still very much prefer normal notebooks. In figures, this means 3.6 million netbooks were sold in the EMEA region during the final quarter of 2008. 7 Million netbooks were sold in 2008 overall, with sales climbing rapidly during the second half of the year.

IDC explains:

As expected, mini-notebooks were one of the most sought-after items in the Christmas season, particularly in Western Europe, which represented over 80% of volumes. Driven by strong vendor and channel push, consumers benefited from the plethora of new models appearing on the shelves from October onwards, and the explosion in the product offering stimulated fierce competition for shelf space. Following in the footsteps of Asus, there are currently more than 50 vendors, from international players to local assemblers, with a mini-notebook offering across EMEA, which is clearly contributing to the ongoing buoyancy.

Being a Western European myself, this is hardly surprising. Every electronics or computer store has multiple models on their shelves, and the ad magazines dropping in the mail a few times a week are all exploding with netbooks models. Asus and Acer are definitely the most popular, but slightly posher models from Samsung and HP can also be found everywhere.

Cell carriers have also discovered the potential of netbooks, and through them it's relatively easy and cheap to get a netbook. I've felt tempted myself often enough; I'm in the market for a limitless 3G data contract, and I'm trying to find reasons why I should not pick a contract with a "free" netbook.

With the economic downturn only getting worse, netbooks seem like the right product at the right time. Sales will only increase, with IDC expecting double-digit growth in 2009.

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