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Analyst: Zero netbook demand by 2015

Posted: 16 Apr 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:netbooks? mobile PC? Ultrabook?

IHS has numbered the remaining days of the once popular netbook computers. The market research firm attributed the downfall of the PC product to the proliferation of tablets, causing netbook shipments to virtually drop to zero.

Shipments of netbooks this year are forecast to amount to just 3.97 million units, a 72 per cent plunge from 14.13 million units in 2012. The market for the small, inexpensive laptops had steadily climbed for three years from the time the devices were first introduced in 2007, peaking in 2010 when shipments hit a high of 32.14 million units. Since then, however, the netbook space has imploded and gone into decline!fast.

Next year will be the last hurrah for netbooks on the market, with shipments amounting to a mere 264,000 units. By 2015, netbook shipments will be down to zero, indicated IHS.

"Netbooks shot to popularity immediately after launch because they were optimised for low cost, delivering what many consumers believed as acceptable computer performance," said Craig Stice, senior principal analyst for compute platforms at IHS. "Initially intended for light productivity tasks such as web browsing and email, netbooks eventually became more powerful, taking advantage of a mature PC technology that allowed cost-effective implementation of various functionalities. And though never equaling the performance of full-fledged notebooks and lacking full laptop features like an optical drive, netbooks at one point began taking market share away from their more powerful cousins. However, netbooks began their descent to oblivion with the introduction in 2010 of Apple's iPad."

The following year, netbook shipments dived 34 per cent on what would become a trend of irreversible decline.

"The iPad and other tablets came in a new form factor that excited consumers while also offering improved computing capabilities, leading to a massive loss of interest in netbooks," Stice said.

At the other end of the spectrum, high-end laptops were also making their appearance. Although much more costly than netbooks, they offered premium performance. Squeezed in between, netbooks could only pass off pricing as their strong point, losing out in other benchmarks that consumers deemed important, including computing power, ease of use such as touch-screen capability, and overall appeal.

From the supply end of production, the major original equipment manufacturers of notebooks will have already terminated netbook production at this point. Whatever production is left is expected to be limited, or manufacturers will simply be shipping last-time builds to satisfy contractual obligations to customers.

Mobile PCs retained the largest share of the overall PC market in 4Q12!the latest time for which full figures are available!compared to desktop PCs and entry-level servers. Mobile PCs had about 63 per cent share, compared to 34 per cent for desktops and three per cent for entry-level servers.

Nonetheless, mobile PCs continued to be sideswiped by the ongoing popularity of tablets, and new Ultrabooks and similar ultrathin PCs have yet to take off to the extent hoped for by manufacturers.

Among the computer brands, HP was No. 1 during Q4 with a nearly 18 per cent share of total PC shipments. Lenovo was second, followed by Dell in third place, Acer in fourth, and Asus!which introduced the first netbook in 2007!in fifth.

Landing in sixth place was Toshiba, which climbed one spot from Q3, sending Apple one rung down to seventh. Apple struggled in 4Q12 because of constraints related to panel supply for the company's iMac desktop system, which kept Apple PC shipments down.

In eighth place was Samsung, trailing Apple by a tenth of a percentage point, followed by Sony and Fujitsu rounding out the Top 10.

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