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Faltering economy boosting Netbooks

A research report from DisplaySearch says the small form factor notebooks are expected to grow 65 percent to account for one fifth of the entire notebook market.

While there's been discussionlately about what the best operating system for a Netbook is, there is no question that the small form factor PC is a runaway hit with consumers.

Acer Netbook

In DisplaySearch's Quarterly Notebook PC Shipment and Forecast Report for the first quarter of 2009, the research firm says Netbooks are on track to grow 65 percent over the course of the year from 2008's totals. Conversely, traditional notebooks are expected to grow just 3 percent this year. And, according to DisplaySearch, Netbooks will comprise one fifth of the 133 million notebooks to be shipped in 2009.

It's an amazing growth rate, considering that Netbooks started from basically zero market share in the beginning of 2008. Just over a year after Asus made a splash with the Eee PC, now--with the notable exception of Apple--every one of the top 15 PC makers sells a Netbook. And despite the battering it's given the tech industry as a whole, the current economic situation is actually buoying Netbooks.

DisplaySearch analysts say that because many consumers are having to tighten their budgets, some are settling for a smaller, more lightly featured device like a Netbook until they feel more financially stable.

But the Netbook trend is not likely to last. DisplaySearch is forecasting that once the economy turns around, consumers will return to buying the notebook with the most features they can get for their money.