Right. So yesterday when I was pointing out that saying that netbook growth from 2008 to 2009 was 641% was kind of like saying that the Apple iPad has experienced infinity-percent growth year over year — because there was no iPad last year, and there were only a handful of netbooks on the market in the first half of 2008. So when people say that the slowing growth in the netbook space means the iPad is killing them dead, I beg to differ. And apparently so do the researchers at iSuppli, who suggest that 2010 will be a big year for thin and light notebooks including netbooks.

According to iSuppli, overall notebook shipments are expected to top 209 million this year — which would be an increase of about 25% from last year. The firm suggests that about 34.5 million of those notebooks will be netbooks, with about 14.5 million ultrathin notebooks thrown in for good measure.

Of course, I always take these kinds of predictions with a gran of salt. But after reading one too many headlines yesterday about the death of the netbook I just wanted to hammer home the point that there’s plenty of disagreement on that point. And that’s not to say that I’m an iPad hater, or even that iPads aren’t taking some sales away from netbooks. I’m sure there are some people that are picking up an iPad instead of a netbook because it better meets their needs and/or gadget lust requirements. But I don’t think people are quite done with small, cheap laptops just yet.d

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8 replies on “Research: Netbooks and ultrathin laptop shipments expected to grow this year”

  1. Are netbooks underpowered for the average user? Maybe a tiny bit, but the solution really is the Nvidia ION or other video chips. It is really only the ability to playback HD video that is the flaw in the design now. In terms of processing power for application like word processors, web browsers, etc netbooks are perfect. Heck even just pulling pictures off of a 10 mega-pixel camera is fine on a netbook as long as you’re not trying to run Adobe Photoshop or something equally over powered for a simple task.

    Netbooks are fine, it just the manufactures need to understand that they need to put the parts in the machine to play HD video. And you’d hope Adobe would get on the stick about supporting more netbook video solutions.

  2. Valid points made. I always have to weigh in on these discussions for some reason. If Intel had their way, netbooks would be the first computer in history to never get significantly faster processing speed. The fact that it’s been minimal tells me all I need to know. That said, I’m betting that ION will in fact give netbooks that edge even though Intel won’t find ways to increase overall performance. I’ve never met anyone who hasn’t wanted more speed and capabilities out of a computer. The market will settle on price in the end. Pay a lot for an iPad? Pay more for a CULV laptop with lousy graphics? Pay less for an ION netbook? With the HP download store opening, you can see more potential for the netbook market growing as these type of money making opportunities arise. Personally, CULV hasn’t proven itself at all. Certainly sales haven’t backed up the hype around them.

  3. The problem with netbooks, as I see them, is that they’re simply underpowered for the average user. It’s been reported that interest in the little wonders has already cooled off quite a bit. I suspect that Intel is holding it back by not developing the Atom processor well enough for fears of it cannabalizing more expensive laptop processor/chipset sales. If AMD would get serious in this arena, maybe it would be a different story.

    The iPad is something that is potentially a problem. It uses a much better screen than any netbook, but at 4:3 ratio, and it seems to be well powered and have a long battery life. It suffers because it’s not a real computer and doesn’t have sufficient storage. So, is it going to hurt netbook sales or not? Remains to be seen, but I say “yes”. Netbook is mostly good for some surfing and email. Exactly what an iPad could do just fine. Netbooks are mostly too underpowered for anything else.

    1. I largely agree with your assessment that netbooks are “too underpowered for the average user”. At the risk of putting too fine of a point on your comment, the netbook is not the problem, the “average user” is.

      For better or worse, computers are cheaper and easier to use than ever before, and you no longer have to know or understand much in order get involved with a device and use it effectively to do most of the things that most users do. In fact, the consumer market for technology is now SATURATED with uninformed people who are just looking to get their expectations (wherever those came from) met. I think this is one reason that Apple has enjoyed a huge surge in popularity after it had nearly bankrupted itself from years of alienating its original loyal following (or as a client of mine once said, “the best way to prove to the world you’re not an audiophile is to fill your house with Bang & Olfusen”).

      From the beginning, people were buying netbooks only to return them because “they weren’t good enough”, meaning that they were trying to use them in ways that they were never designed to be used. That’s what happens when you neither understand what a device is for nor what your actually computing needs are, yet you’re out there buying and using computers. Most netbooks on the market to date were NEVER intended to replace a desktop computer. Streaming HD videos from youtube, nonchalant multitasking, 3D video games… none of these apply. The design objectives were: cheap, light, long battery life. They were so underpowered that Windows XP had to become the go to OS, and they were such a big hit that Microsoft had to delaythe EOL of Windows XP to accommodate the boom.

      I’m not surprised by the conclusions of the article to which this comment is attached. An iPad is a content consumption platform (an anomalous position for a touch screen slate computer) by design, whereas the current netbook , by design, is a pretty lousy content consumption platform but a pretty good content creation platform. The next generation of netbooks will have the computing capability of current full-size laptops and will retain the familiar efficient form factor of current netbooks. I still won’t want one, but I think that, for most people, a phone and a netbook will be all they’re every going to need here pretty soon. There will simply be fewer trade-offs, and the consumer won’t have to be any-the-wiser to get all expectations met.

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