Netbook sales to top 50 million by 2012

Analysts predict strong growth for netbooks as market saturates

Nicole Kobie
12 Aug 2008

Sales of netbooks are set to continue their impressive growth, but analysts warn companies not to pin their business to them.

According to Gartner netbooks will hit sales of about 5.2 million globally this year, rising to eight million in 2009. Gartner claims around 50 million of the smaller form devices could be shipped in 2012.

While this burgeoning popularity will not immediately hurt fully-featured laptop sales, Gartner claims netbook sales could start to cannibalise shipments of cheaper full-form laptops as early as 2010 as greater functionality creeps into the machines.

The firm goes on to argue that while the sub-laptop market seems attractive, vendors need to be cautious about pegging their business to it. "For consumer mini-notebooks to succeed, they need to be positioned differently than standard notebooks, and PC vendors will need to decide if the existing channels to market are appropriate and possibly look for new channels, such as telecom, gadget shops and so on," says Annette Jump, research director at Gartner.

"PC vendors will have to convince retailers to take on those products, as they are still emerging products and potentially present some risk from an inventory point of view," she added.

Despite being designed for use in education, about 70% of the market for cheap laptops is expected to be consumers. "Potential users are likely to include both first-time buyers seeking a low-cost introductory PC as well as experienced users seeking a low-cost second or third PC for themselves or a relative," Jump notes.

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