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iPad fingered in mini-notebook decline

DisplaySearch's second-quarter study shows that tablets, and particularly Apple's iPad, are filling demand for small, portable devices larger than a smartphone.

Netbooks and mini-notebooks are still selling, just not very well.

Market research firm DisplaySearch crunched some numbers in its Quarterly Advanced Notebook PC Shipment and Forecast Report released today and came up with a good news/bad new scenario for the between-a-smartphone-and-a-notebook category.

The good news is that when combined, second-quarter shipments of tablets, Netbooks, and mini-notebooks were up 29 percent in the last year. The bad news? If you take out the 3.3 million iPads that Apple shipped during that same quarter, the tablet-mini-notebook-Netbook shipment numbers sink to 13 percent fewer shipments than the year before.

DisplaySearch finds an "iPad Effect" on the shipments of the once-hot mini-notebook category.
DisplaySearch finds an "iPad Effect" on the shipments of the once-hot mini-notebook category. CNET

DisplaySearch is calling this, naturally, the "iPad Effect" in the portable PC market. Notably, the effect might have been even worse were Apple able to fill demand for its tablets. Its supply chain was slow to fill orders for the iPad during the spring and summer, causing long wait times. But recently it appears to be catching back up.

But not all is lost for mini-notebooks, according to John Jacobs, director of notebook market research for DisplaySearch.

"The end of 2007 witnessed the launch of mini-notes. The first quarter of 2010 signaled the birth of the tablet PC, and possibly by extension, the beginning of the end of the mini-note market, especially in developed regions," he said.

Emerging markets, or regions where people are just now buying their first PC, will likely find the features, price, and portability still quite useful, according to the study.

But the "iPad Effect" is likely to be even more pronounced in Apple's major markets when the third-quarter numbers are revealed. Besides the company likely selling more after catching up with demand, it also only recently began selling the iPad in China and Japan.

Looking ahead, the mini-notebooks are going to have more competition than from just the iPad. Samsung, Dell, Research In Motion, Hewlett-Packard, and many others have started selling their own touch-screen tablets or announced plans to later this year and in early 2011.