updated 04:04 pm EDT, Sat April 13, 2013
Netbook shipments to be down 72 percent in 2013
The netbook craze has come and gone, according to a new report from IHS iSuppli. The diminutive, low-power laptops will see shipments plummet this year, IHS says, with the category very much dead in two years' time. The main culprit in the netbook's demise: Apple's iPad.
"Netbooks shot to popularity immediately after launch because they were optimized for low cost," IHS analyst Craig Stice says in the firm's new report, pointed out by the Los Angeles Times. "However, netbooks began their descent into oblivion with the introduction in 2010 of Apple's iPad."
The netbook category peaked in 2010 with 32.14 million units shipped. IHS' report has the industry shipping 3.97 million netbooks in 2013. That's down 72 percent from 2012's 14.13 million units.
The news only gets worse for the category. IHS projects 264,000 netbooks shipped in 2014. By 2015, IHS sees no netbooks shipped. Most major manufacturers have already abandoned or are in the process of halting netbook production.
The decline of the netbook is one extreme example of the overall drop in traditional PC sales. As consumers increasingly turn to smartphones and tablets, they are finding less need for traditional computing form factors. Netbooks -- once thought to be a means of bridging the gap between normal computer forms and consumers' desire for cheaper, more portable devices -- have suffered especially with the rise of particularly tablets, but also smartphones, as consumers are finding that they can accomplish most of the things they use computers for without a traditional computer -- what Apple CEO Tim Cook has called the "post-PC era."
Prior to the release of the iPad, some analysts had expected for Apple to release its own netbook in order to join in the wider industry trend. Then-Apple CEO Steve Jobs repeatedly dismissed netbooks as substandard devices.
"The problem is: netbooks aren't better at anything," Jobs said in introducing Apple's iPad. "They're slow, they have low-quality displays, and they run clunky, old PC software... We don't think that they're a third-category device."