While notebook and desktop PC sales aren’t selling as well as anticipated, netbooks continue to be a growth market. According to a report from DisplaySearch, the market grew by 160% betwen the second and third quarters of 2008.
That number’s not particularly surprising, since the netbook market was born just over a year ago. While most of the top PC makers have a netbook in their lineup now, several of those companies have only recently released their entries, which means we’ll probably see netbook sales climb a bit higher over the next few quarters.
I didn’t shell out the cash for DisplaySearch’s full report. But one of the more interesting elements in the press release was the chart above, which shows the market share held by various mini-notebook manufacturers. We’d already seen that Acer was set to outperform Asus in the netbook space this year. But I find it a bit surprising to see just how much of the market belongs to Asus and Acer. I suspect HP, Dell, and Lenovo may do some catching up next year based largely on their name recognition. But some of those big names aren’t pushing their mini-laptop models very hard, likely due to to fears that low cost PC sales could eat into the sales of higher priced machines.
It has happened…
Computers are an essential appliance for the home! They are not extravagances anymore; computers are established must have devices. E-mail matters, printing airline vouchers is a must, digital photos are the norm, and that means a computers isn’t something people will do without. When their computer breaks or needs replacing people WILL replace it.
But, lets face facts most people don’t buy the most expensive toaster or coffee maker; they buy the minimum they can get away with. They don’t buy the most expensive microwave; they buy the one that is on sale in the size they need to replace the old one. The same goes for computers and at this time the least expensive computer is of course going to be what people want.
What that means is all the computer makers need to focus on the low end of the market. And that doesn’t mean just Netbooks. It means we nee to see more Nettops and lower end mediums power PCs and notebooks. And hand in hand with that is to start making the purchasing of computers easier. Twenty different options? Screens and screens of questions, options, and variable just to buy the simplest low end machines. That way of doing business is crazy. Just as the Big Three in Detroit need to thin-out their product lines, I think Dell, HP, Gateway, Toshiba, NEC, Acer, Asustek Sony, and others need to simplify their product lines too.
It is no wonder Netbooks sell. They are inexpensive and actually easier to buy…less options, easier choices, and rock bottom prices.
Computer makers *do* simplify their product lines — shop at Wal-Mart, or even Best Buy, and you don’t get screens and screens of options. Sites with lots of options are for enthusiasts or IT departments, just like you can special order a car from the factory through your dealer if you want an exact set of packages, or you can buy one of the ones in stock if you’re a normal consumer of cars.
But to your larger point, computers are clearly becoming normal consumer items, and what colors they come in are starting to matter as much as anything. Netbooks and net-tops are well suited to retail — normal low-end computers are cheap because they’re bulkier and uglier than more expensive models, while netbooks and net-tops planted a flag at a new level of capability that they can meet yet still look nice and be less bulky than much fancier models. Total win for everyone except companies with a stake in selling higher-end models.
Go figure. The two companies that have these things, widely, available in actual stores are leading in market share. Whodda thunk?
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