Netbook Sales Set To Double, Laptops Stagnant

Dennis Faas's picture

Worldwide shipments of netbooks are expected to double this year, despite sales of other portable computers being set to flatline. It appears the growth is down to cost, with many buying netbooks as second machines.

The forecast comes from researchers DisplaySearch, which expects netbook shipments to rise from 16.4 million last year to 32.7 million. Shipments are the number of computers sent to retailers and are a common method of measuring "sales" as they are easier to track.

The firm had been predicting 27.5 million netbook shipments this year but has revised that figure based on increasing price competition, larger screens and better hardware -- all making the devices more attractive.

Laptops Hit The Wall

It's also predicting that shipments of full-sized notebooks and laptops will hold steady at around 129 million. That's worse than it sounds because sales are expected to rise as technology spreads to new markets around the world.

The firm blames the stall on consumers opting for netbooks instead and businesses looking to cut back on spending by ditching relatively high-priced laptops for desktops. (Source:

Netbooks do well because they serve a dual purpose: in developing markets they act as a low-cost way of buying a home's main computer, while in richer countries they can serve as an affordable second PC. (Source:

Google Chrome-Plated Future

Sales could get even better next year when Google introduces its Chrome operating system. An open-source system based on Linux, the Google brand reputation may attract users who'd otherwise been wary about moving away from Windows.

Note that there's no standard definition for what counts as a netbook. The most common definition is screen size but, while DisplaySearch uses 12.7" as the cut-off point Microsoft recently defined the limit as 10.2 inches.

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