Is the iPad really killing netbook sales?

Research claims that iPad has pushed netbook sales off a cliff - but does it stack up?

Barry Collins
7 May 2010

A new piece of research by Morgan Stanley claims that the Apple iPad has cannibalised sales of netbooks.

The research shows that the growth of netbook sales has stalled sharply since the announcement of the iPad in January. While the low-budget laptops enjoyed growth as high as 179% in December 2009, that figure was reduced to only 5% last month.

However, the figures - published in Fortune magazine - show the decline in netbook growth actually started last summer, long before the iPad was even heard of.

In July 2009, netbooks recorded spectacular growth of 641%, declining reasonably steadily to 337% by November and slipping below triple digits by January this year. The figures also fail to take into account the seasonal trend of sales slowing after the busy Christmas period.

This suggests that the decline may simply reflect the maturity of the netbook market, rather than the adverse impact of the Apple tablet.

Nevertheless, Morgan Stanley backs up its claims about the iPad's impact with survey results suggesting that 44% of iPad owners bought the device instead of a laptop. The iPod touch (41%), eBook readers (28%), desktop PCs (27%) and videogame consoles (17%) were also sacrificed for the iPad.

Apple claimed earlier this week that iPad sales had surpassed a million units, reaching that milestone at more than double the pace of the iPhone.

The iPad has yet to go on sale in the UK, with Apple pushing back the international launch date in order to meet demand for the device in the US. The company is due to start taking orders in the UK on Monday.

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