Often heralded as the next big thing in consumer computing, netbook shipments saw a sharp decline in sales growth for the first quarter of 2010. IDC, a market research firm, reports that retail shipments of netbooks fell from a significant 872% growth in the first quarter of 2009 to just 33.6% in 2010's first three months.
The low-cost, portable devices struck huge success with consumers back in 2008 near the start of the recession but have since waned as customers start to look toward upcoming alternatives. DigiTimes reported this week that manufacturers of LCDs used in netbooks have started to cut production due to the downturn in orders. They claim that both HP and Dell have substantially reduced investment into 10" netbooks, though Acer, Asus, and Samsung remain strong-footed in the market.
Regardless of the sharp decline in sales growth, netbooks are still growing in numbers. The reported 33.6% growth for 2010's first quarter brought about 4.8 million shipments of the devices, up from the 3.6 million shipped in the same quarter of last year. Robert Shim of IDC predicts that netbooks will definitely establish themselves as a permanent force in the market, but won't become the dominant figure as they were predicted to be because of the limitations they pose:
"They're going to be a permanent part of the landscape," says Shim. But consumers have become less willing to give up features available on full-priced laptops—such as the ability to play video games or edit photos—in favor of netbooks' low price, he says. And full-fledged laptops are themselves becoming slimmer and smaller."