Demand for Netbooks has been hot and is likely to get hotter, as sales of their big brother, notebooks, are set to remain steady this year.
Netbooks are projected to grab a 20 percent share of the worldwide market for 2009, according to a report released Monday by researcher DisplaySearch, an NPD Group subsidiary. Consumers are expected to scoop up almost 33 million Netbooks this year, marking a sales gain of close to 100 percent from last year's 16 million.
But notebook sales are set to be flat this year, with 129 million units shipping, virtually the same as in 2008, according to DisplaySearch's Quarterly Notebook PC Shipment and Forecast Report. This would make the first year ever that the notebook market showed no sales growth. DisplaySearch defines notebooks as laptop computers with screens measuring 12.1 inches or larger.
By region, this year's Netbook sales are forecast to jump 260 percent in China, 137 percent in North America, and 88 percent in Latin America.
The affordability of Netbooks, which typically have fewer features and are less powerful than notebooks, has fostered their growth around the world, the report noted. Last year, 45 percent of Netbooks were shipped to Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), winning a larger market share over notebooks.
The availability of Netbooks has also boosted sales, DisplaySearch said. Telecommunications providers such as AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Communications have marketed low-cost, subsidized Netbooks to their customers.
The notebook market itself has been hurt by reduced IT spending, stalling purchases on new units. If Windows 7 takes off at the same time the economy revives, notebook demand among enterprises could shoot up next year.
Notebooks also have carved out a large chunk of the global portable PC market, and they are not being replaced by Netbooks at this point.
"It is clear that buyers want a lightweight device but that they also want a bigger display," said John F. Jacobs, director of notebook market research at DisplaySearch and author of the report. "While (Netbooks) have certainly created a new market, our research indicates that they are predominantly used as secondary PCs by consumers and are not replacing notebooks."