Apple's iPad nabs Netbook market share

Momentum appears to be moving from Netbooks to slates, according to a new report from DisplaySearch.

Brooke Crothers
Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
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The iPad is starting to grab market share from Netbooks, a trend that may not bode well for these small laptops, according to a report from DisplaySearch on Tuesday.

"It appears that the momentum is shifting from mini-note PCs to slates," market researcher DisplaySearch said in a note. Netbooks are small, lightweight laptops, typically powered by an Intel Atom processor. Netbooks are also referred to as "mini-notes."

In the first quarter of this year, Apple shipped almost 700,000 iPads into the channel, accounting for 6.5 percent of all mini-note PCs/slates and in the first two months of the second quarter Apple sold more than 2 million iPads, DisplaySearch said.

"DisplaySearch expects that the iPad will continue to account for an increased share of the mini-note PC/slate segment in Q2'10. In the second half of the year, as additional slates are launched, the clamshell-style mini-note PC (netbook) could continue to lose share," according to the firm.

"DisplaySearch shows that the iPad is eroding Netbook market share. DisplaySearch

While DisplaySearch said that the low price of Netbooks have made them an attractive alternative to standard laptops, the iPad and other tablets should continue to make inroads into this market segment that has been based on more traditional office suite applications.

"With the emergence of the iPad and other slates, this segment of the market is transitioning from devices that, though smaller and less expensive, followed typical PC market trends that are built upon Office suite applications and content creation to devices that provide the ability to create content (and) is more focused on an a la carte method for selecting the software capabilities (apps) of the device and content consumption."

The firm went so far to say that the first quarter of 2010 may be the beginning of the end to the Netbook. "The last quarter of 2007 heralded the birth of the mini-note PC (netbook). Q1'10 signaled the birth of the slate PC, and possibly by extension, the beginning of the end of the mini-note PC (netbook)."

But the end, if it indeed comes, is not here yet. Netbooks continued to sell well in Latin America and Asia-Pacific. "The positive Y/Y (year-to-year) revenue growth in Q1'10 was a result of very strong mini-note PC/slate growth in Latin America and the Asia-Pacific, as well as continued growth in China and North America," DisplaySearch said.

And notebook sales overall are robust. Revenue for the total notebook PC market grew to $31.1 billion, the largest single quarter since the third quarter of 2008. "Shipments of portable class notebook PCs surged Y/Y in Asia-Pacific, China, and Latin America, easily passing average market growth rates for the segment. Shipments of desktop replacement class notebook PCs surged Y/Y in Europe/Middle East/Africa and Japan."