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Is the iPad already killing the Netbook?

According to a new study's findings, a transition is already in progress.

We've wondered, with Atom Netbooks having been basically in pause mode technology-wise for the better part of two years, whether the popular bottom-priced product might eventually be threatened by larger, smarter smartphones and sleeker hybrid computing devices and tablets such as the iPad.

It makes sense, especially with the iPad having sold a million units through its first 28 days, and we've mused on it before. A new study from Morgan Stanley, discussed in Fortune's Apple 2.0 blog, concludes that tablets in general will be a big threat to the area. Netbook sales growth, according to a chart from Morgan Stanley's Katy Huberty, has been significantly flatter lately; sales are still increasing, just not at the rate they were before. Last July, growth was at 641 percent. In December, growth was 179 percent, and in January it dropped to 68 percent.

The product most endangered by the iPad: laptops? Morgan Stanley / Fortune

And, in a not-surprising survey from Morgan Stanley/Alphawise, the biggest product category likely to be cannibalized by potential iPad customers is Netbooks/laptops. Forty-four percent of potential iPad customers say they'll get it over a notebook. Interestingly, 27 percent said they'd buy an iPad over a desktop.

The Morgan Stanley study is not without its flaws, especially since the slowing growth rate of Netbooks seems like it was already in play before the iPad came out. Still, it seems inevitable that Netbooks and other cheap ultraportables will have to reckon with the iPad for years to come, much like the smartphone landscape altered after the iPhone. HP's acquisition of Palm--possibly to create a WebOS tablet--would only continue that trend.

Another issue to consider is whether 11- and 12-inch minilaptops simply need to grow into more powerful machines, adopting faster processors and better graphics performance just to compete.

Are you still likely to buy a Netbook, or are you now more likely to consider an iPad or other tablet?

(Via Apple 2.0)