Netbooks may be the fastest growing segment of the computer industry. But how long does it take before everybody who wants a netbook already has one? That’s the question that popped into my head while reading an article from DigiTimes that suggests that Acer, Asus, and MSI have all been having trouble meeting their sales goals.

Acer, for example, shipped around 2 million units during the first quarter of 2009, which sounds pretty good. But shipments aren’t the s, ame thing as sales, and actual channel sales were reportedly lower. Asus had hoped to sell a million netbooks during the same quarter, but also fell short with sales of just 900,000. 

These companies are starting to focus on larger notebooks that weigh more, cost more, but also offer more power thanks to Intel’s new Consumer Ultra Low Voltage processor line. They’re not getting out of the netbook business, not by a long stretch. But is it possible that slowing sales are an indication that the crowded netbook market is already saturated? Or did these companies just set their goals unrealistically high?

Of course, there are plenty of people who bought netbooks in 2007 or early 2008 who are already in the market for new models with larger screens or faster processors. New features like touchscreens and better batteries could also convince some early adopters to make a second or third purchase. So even if the market is already saturated, it doesn’t mean that we won’t see netbooks continue to sell like hotcakes. It just might be a while before we see the phenomenal growth we saw during 2008.

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