Notebook Growth is Negative, Time to Blame Everything

By  |  Friday, September 17, 2010 at 8:48 am

Blaming the iPad for the greater computer industry’s woes is the new trend, and it just got hotter with a report from Morgan Stanley’s Katy Huberty on the slowing growth of notebooks.

Huberty’s research shows that notebook growth is negative for the first time in recent memory, down 4 percent in August compared to the same period last year. That doesn’t mean notebook sales are down, it just means the year-over-year increase in notebook sales is less in August 2010 than it was in August 2009. Anyway, the report fits nicely with a quote from Best Buy Chief Executive Brian Dunn, who said the iPad is stealing up to half of laptop sales.

It’s entirely realistic that some people end up with an iPad when setting out to buy a new computer. Apple is, after all, selling millions of them. Buying habits are going to change unless the iPad is only being purchased in addition to, not instead of, other computers. (It isn’t). But let’s not blow this out of proportion by pointing a finger only at Apple.

Consider, for example, that desktop computer sales — particularly all-in-one PCs — have been soaring for months. Isn’t is possible that prospective laptop buyers are picking up compact desktop PCs instead?

Surely, the explosive growth of netbooks last year also played a role in last month’s lack of growth. Around this time last year, the pace of netbook growth nearly doubled that of notebooks. After bursting onto the scene in 2008 — perfectly timed with a down economy — there was just no way netbooks could keep up the pace. I wouldn’t be surprised if slow netbook growth is dragging down all notebook sales.

And what about smartphones? Maybe this is a stretch, but it’s conceivable that the ability to carry a little computer in your pocket diminishes the need to upgrade computers.

I’m guessing there’s a grand theory at work here, in which the crazy technological leaps in tablets, smartphones, netbooks and desktops is having a profound impact on a once-straightforward PC market. But it’s easier — and more fun — to blame the iPad, so let’s just do that.

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  1. Shawn Reed Says:


    I haven't seen any actual numbers on this–yes, apple is selling millions of ipads, but how much has the sale of notebooks/etc. actually fallen, in number terms? Are the two numbers even comparable in general quantity?