Intel had better hope it gets sufficient volumes from its Atom CPUs because according to a major research company, sales of notebooks are starting to flatten while netbook shipments will double this year.
Displaysearch is predicting the shipment of 33 million mini-notebooks - netbooks in 2009 - and said that penetration into the existing notebook market will grow to 20 percent of entire shipments.
Intel makes much larger margins on the CPUs it sells for notebooks than for the netbook market with the Atom. It has always feared that the plucky little Atom might cannibalize its other notebook offerings.
Displaysearch said the market for traditional notebooks - those with displays 12.1-inch and larger - will be flat year on year for the first time.
Penetration rates for netbooks will be as much as 26 percent in Latin America, and 22 percent in Europe, while the lowest penetration rates are in Asia Pacific, North America and China.
Part of the reason for the success of the netbook is because telecom providers are aggressively pushing the machines, and subsidizing the cost of them.
But it's not just the rise and rise of the netbook which accounts for flatness in the Notebook market, said Displaysearch. There's a dramatic reduction in demand from enterprise customers, and that is likely to change when the economic climate changes.
The launch of Windows 7, combined with economic recovery, could spur demand for enterprise notebooks although Displaysearch doesn't think that will happen until 2010.
John Jacobs, director of notebook market research at Displaysearch, said: "It is clear that buyers want a lightweight device, but they also want a bigger display. While these devices have certainly created a new market, our research indicates that they are predominantly used as secondary PCs by consumers, and are not replacing notebooks."
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