Notebooks live on despite tablet onslaught
The lucrative notebook market has managed to stay afloat despite a tablet onslaught led primarily by Apple's wildly popular iPad.
To be sure, notebook shipments are projected to increase by 100 million units to a total of 324.9 million by 2015. Although annual notebook shipment growth will slow in the near future, the overall notebook market is set to expand due to the key role the familiar form factor plays among businesses and consumers.
"Despite the intense competition from media tablets, notebooks remain a useful tool that has become an essential part of modern life - rather than a luxury item," IHS analyst Matthew Wilkins told TG Daily in an e-mailed statement.
"Compared to the consumption-oriented media tablets, notebooks are superior platforms for content creation tasks, ranging from developing websites, to building rich documents, to editing high-definition videos and photos. Because of this, the notebook PC will continue to be an important, expanding market - even if its sales growth will be slower than it was in the past."
According to Wilkins, the tablet market is also poised for rapid expansion - reaching 60 million units in 2011 and 275.3 million in 2015.
"Following the launch of Apple's iPad and other high-profile devices, consumers have been bombarded with media tablet advertising and press coverage," he explained.
"And with the media tablet portrayed as providing the same capabilities as the notebook PC, consumers are considering media tablets to be an alternative to notebooks. This has caused notebook sales growth to slow down compared to past years."
However, Wilkins noted that netbooks have fared even worse than notebooks in the tablet age. Indeed, after enjoying double-digit growth from 2008 through 2010, netbook shipments are set to decline to 21.5 million units in 2011, down 33.2 percent from 32 million in 2010. Shipments are expected to decrease still further during the coming years, eventually dwindling to 13.5 million units in 2015.
"A similar user experience to that of the netbook is offered by the media tablet, with both being highly portable platforms allowing convenient consumption of multimedia content, whether offline or online," said Wilkins.
"Thus, the media tablet is attracting purchases from consumers who otherwise might buy notebooks."
Interestingly enough, Wilkins concluded the notebook market will find some solace from the onslaught of media tablets in the PC tablet - which he defined as slate or convertible/hybrid devices that incorporate a full PC OS such as Windows 7 or Linux.
"The launch by Microsoft of its new Windows 8 operating system in late 2012 will boost the acceptance of the PC tablet in the enterprise segment as well as the consumer market, because of its compatibility with current PC applications and other PC platforms.
"As such, growth of PC tablets will begin to accelerate in 2013 - one year after Windows 8 is released - with shipments of 10 million units. PC tablet shipments then are expected to nearly quintuple by 2015, reaching 45.2 million units," he added.