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Netbook growth slows dramatically in early 2010

updated 09:15 am EDT, Fri April 2, 2010

PC builders backing away from netbooks

Growth in netbooks has fallen by extreme levels in the first few months of the year, IDC has found. Netbook shipments will still have grown 33.6 percent year-over-year to 4.8 million PCs, but the growth is far less than the about 872 percent that was seen a year earlier. The decline is such that IDC now believes that most were attracted to the category solely for the price, which usually falls below $500 and lately has made $300 more common.

"Everyone tried to make these [netbooks] out to be a different category," IDC's Richard Shim said. "In fact, people think of them as just another type of PC."

While no updated estimate was available for the rest of the year, leaks have suggested that some major companies are actively backing away from the format. Dell and HP were already suspected of getting out of 10-inch netbooks altogether in favor of larger 'crossover' models. Several Korean and Taiwanese display makers, including AU Optronics and LG Display, are also rumored to have been scaling back their netbook-sized LCD production by hundreds of thousands of units each as both local and American netbook designers have set lower sales expectations.

The decline partly reflects the nature of a saturated market, as many of those who had wanted netbooks now have them. Few of these buyers also have a reason to upgrade, as arbitrary limits on netbook specs by Intel and Microsoft have left many 2010 netbooks only slightly improved compared to systems from two years ago. Many netbooks released through some of 2008 and all of 2009 were forced to use no more than a 10-inch display, a 1.6GHz Atom, 1GB of RAM and no a 160GB hard drive if they wanted to use certain Intel processors or run Windows XP. Most PC makers chose XP anyways, as the excessive performance demands of Windows Vista made it impractical to use; Windows 7 is fast enough to run using a netbook's limited resources.

Apple, meanwhile, may have seen some support for its own stance through the settled-down netbook market. Its leader Steve Jobs is well-known to have trashed netbooks onstage at the iPad unveiling, arguing that they "aren't better at anything" and are really just cut-rate notebooks for those who don't want the usual price or size. The company is gambling that the radically different design of a tablet, along with a more intuitive interface and lighter design, can take market share from the high end of netbooks and in very few cases replace a low-end conventional notebook.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Raman

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I'll tell you why...

    Because everyone that went out and bought one (myself included) realized that they're thick yet tiny, underpowered, cramped, crappy os'd pieces of isht that aren't worth it and after $3-500 realized they got what they paid for.

  1. climacs

    Joined: Dec 1969



    in other words... exactly what Tim Cook said last fall when he slammed the netbook category.

  1. ricardogf

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Apple does it again

    And I remember people telling Apple to sell one of those crapptastic pieces of s*** when all seemed fine and dandy...their swansong is there for all to see now.

  1. OtisWild

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Running linux, netbooks are fine for what I need them for.. Browsing web, doing terminal emulation with screen over USB-to-serial dongle, listening to mp3s, watching 480p video, etc.

    I doubt OSX would bring teh snappeh on that spec of hardware though.

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