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Netbook sales will double before decline

Posted: 29 Jul 2010     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:netbooks  market trends  emerging markets 

ABI Research projects that some 6 crore (60 million) netbooks are expected to ship this year, a figure that will almost double by 2013, worldwide and the trend will start to decline in 2014-2015. The market has seen rapid growth, led by ASUS and Acer, since the category was first introduced in 2008.

As half a dozen vendors held a 78 per cent share of the market in 2009, shifts are emerging, said principal analyst Jeff Orr. The ASUS Eee PC pioneered the netbook arena, followed by Acer, and these two enjoyed almost equal third of the market in 2008. However, ASUS lost about half of its market share in 2009, said Orr.

The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative was industrialized by ASUS, yet they haven't been able to keep up with the scale of production that Acer has, and that Acer has practised better distribution channels in North America, Western Europe, Japan and South Korea. Acer could have been willing to spend more money or probably was in the right place at the right time, in terms of making good product decisions and responding to market needs.

Orr said that Acer will continue to maintain a powerful lead, but there are other vendors that have gained access to the arena. These vendors have increased their market shares in 2009, notably HP, Dell and Lenovo; while Samsung lost a couple of percentage points. He stressed that netbooks are being bought as companion-not replacement – devices in markets which have huge PC penetration and broadband services, home networking and typically a very competitive wireless landscape.

"Over time I expect what will be driving shipments around the world will be the emerging markets," Orr also explains, which don't have widespread broadband and full computers right now. In markets such as China and India, netbooks with a classic clamshell design, due to their price points, will be the first computing devices in homes. Eventually, the cost to deploy home broadband service in developing markets will go down, along with PC prices, led by netbooks.

The latest netbook study by ABI Research humbles some of the myths that exist, Orr said. For example, he mentioned that people understand the value proposition, pointed to the ludicrous theory that the only reason netbooks have flourished is because of the recession and people don't want to spend too much on their computing devices.

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