RealTime IT News

Notebooks Top Desktop Sales Ahead of Schedule

Source: Dell

Quarterly global notebook PC shipments surpassed desktop computers for the first time ever, according to market research firm iSupply -- a change that industry watchers had figured would happen years from now.

The firm reported that notebook PC shipments rose almost 40 percent in the third quarter of 2008 over the same quarter in 2007, to 38.6 million units. Desktop PC sales dipped in that same period by 1.3 percent, to 38.5 million units.

Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) was the top-selling vendor, with 14.9 million units sold in Q3 for 18.8 percent market share. Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) was second, with 11 million units for 13.9 percent market share. Acer was third, followed by Lenovo and Toshiba, with 12.2, 7.5 and 4.6 percent shares, respectively.

The news stands in sharp contrast to widely held consensus that the crossover to a majority of notebooks wouldn't happen before 2011.

"This marks a major event in the PC market because it marks the start of the age of the notebook. The notebook PC is no longer a tool only for the business market, or a computer for the well-off consumer; it's now a computer for everyman," said Matthew Wilkins, principal analyst for compute platforms at iSuppli, in a statement.

Helping the growth is the sales of netbooks, the hot-selling new category. Netbooks are smaller, cheaper laptops, often powered by the Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) Atom processor and running Linux or Windows XP.

iSuppli grouped both netbooks and notebooks into a single category, which explained Acer's strong showing. On a sequential basis, the company grew its unit shipment market share by 45 percent over the second quarter of 2008 and by 79 percent on a year-over-year basis.

Acer shipped almost 3 million more notebooks in the third quarter than it did in the preceding quarter, with the majority of those 3 million being the company's netbook products.

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), which has been so resurgent recently, lost almost half a point of market share on a sequential basis at 3.2 percent, placing it seventh overall in total PC shipments.

The reason for Apple's slip isn't a simple one, according to Peter Lin, senior analyst with the company. He thinks it's due to the growth in netbooks. "When its competitors grow faster, it will lose market share. So I think the main reason [for the lost ground] is Apple has not provided a netbook yet," he said in an e-mail to InternetNews.com.

Even with the economy melting down in the third quarter, worldwide PC unit shipments rose 15.4 percent over the third quarter of 2007, for a total of 79 million units shipped. iSuppli had projected 12 percent year-over-year growth.

Because of this, iSuppli has revised its full-year 2008 unit growth forecast up slightly, from 12.5 percent to 13.0 percent. Its revised 2009 outlook isn't so sunny. It sees PC unit growth of 4.3 percent over 2008, and that's with the strength in notebooks.

iSuppli projects netbooks to account for around 12 percent of sales in 2009 and 20 million units total, according to Lin. Notebook sales will be about 162 million units.