Netbooks are growing in popularity so quickly that they could represent a quarter of all portables sold this year, the NPD Group's DisplaySearch predicted today. Although netbook shipments should almost exactly double their 2008 levels to about 32.7 million in 2009, the researchers sees the total notebook market actually dropping by 100,000 systems to 129.5 million. The inertia would leave netbooks consuming 25.3 percent of the entire portable business this year.
The rapid shift is said to stem from a combination of demand for netbooks as well as hesitation to buy notebooks elsewhere. About 40 percent of all notebooks are shipping to Africa, Europe or the Middle East, where many of the buyers are less likely to have money for more expensive systems. A recent push by carriers in North America to offer 3G-equipped netbooks is also expected to help.
Most of the reluctance for larger notebooks comes from the business world, where the economic collapse has led many companies to hold off from buying new systems until necessary. Many of these have also consciously avoided upgrading to Windows Vista and many not buy notebooks until at least the Windows 7 launches in October, when at least some of the compatibility and performance problems will have been fixed. The true recovery isn't anticipated until 2010, however.
Companies heavily invested in netbooks, like Acer and ASUS, have historically benefited the most from the netbook rush while others with equal feet in both environments, like Dell, have struggled. Apple is one of the few to have averted releasing a netbook quickly and has so far been successful outside of netbooks, but recent rumors have a touchscreen netbook-like Mac arriving in October that would shore up the lack of a system significantly below the $1,000 mark.