Analyst firm DisplaySearch has done a study into the notebook market, and from that study they conclude that in 2009, netbook shipments will grow to 20% of total notebook shipments. At the same time, sales of “normal” notebooks will remain flat year-over-year.
DisplaySearch has a relatively straightforward way of setting a notebook apart from a netbook: they find everything with a screen size of 12.1″ and higher a normal notebook. Taking that into account, this table shows (in great detail) what they believe the notebook market will look like in 2009:
DisplaySearch believes that a major driving force behind the rapid adoption of netbooks are mobile carriers, who aggressively offer contracts with mobile internet and netbooks attached. They claim that the smartphone market is becoming ever more saturated, making it harder for carriers to earn a decent profit with smartphones.
Normal notebook sales suffer from the popularity of netbooks, but also because of reduced demand for normal notebooks from the enterprise market, who have been cutting budgets due to the economic crisis. If Windows 7’s release comes at a time of economic recovery, DisplaySearch believes that normal notebook sales will quickly gather momentum again.
Again, it seems like netbook sales are the driving force of the notebook market, but sadly, this does cut into the margins of manufacturers, since those are lower on netbooks than on normal notebooks.
I believe that even before the netbook craze (I have one), there was already a strong drive towards the bottom in the laptop market. For several years the “bottom-feeders” with $350-$500 laptops have been driving this market down. I believe the netbooks were really just the icing on the cake in this move to the pricing cellar. Really, it showed just how low it can go (think $149 ARM netbooks). I still remember my $2000 Gateway I bought in 1999. It wasn’t even the top of the line. Sadly for the OEM’s, these days are long gone unless you live in Cupertino.