Notebook sales negative, but is iPad to blame?

Notebooks (otherwise known as laptops) are the front lines of mobile productivity. If you’re in college, you probably have one. If you do any work outside the office, you most likely use a laptop. If you want your computer to exist anywhere outside the confines of the top of your desk, you have a laptop. It’s been that way even since the idea of mobile computing even entered the collective conscience of the connected world. Many companies are ditching the desktop altogether and handing out laptops to its employees, and kids are using them as primary note taking devices in elementary school.  So, when Fortune reports that notebook sales have actually dipped below the x-axis this month, people immediately start pointing fingers.

The iPad, and the general resurgence of the tablet market, is seen as the primary factor in the eight month decline in Notebook sales. The decline started the month after the iPad was announced, so it isn’t such a farfetched idea. This is backed up by comments from Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn and Morgan Stanley’s Katy Huberty. According to Dunn, "internal estimates showed that the iPad had cannibalized sales from laptop PCs by as much as 50 percent."

While it’s tempting to place blame on the tablet market, there are other factors as well. Tablets are definitely a growing market, and people are trying to find ways to replace their notebook with a touchscreen device, but the drop in sales doesn’t necessarily reflect that people are buying more tablets. If anything, there has been a steep decline in marketing departments as far as notebooks go. As we come closer to the tablet war of 2011, manufacturers are trying to shift the focus of the consumer to the upcoming market storm. That doesn’t mean people are replacing their notebooks, nor does it mean that tablets are cannibalizing notebook sales. As soon as the tablet wars plateau and the market becomes saturated, you can bet that notebooks will be back on top of marketing department priority lists.

Image credit: Blogote

Another factor in the decline of the notebook this year was the rise of Android and faster mobile networks. Android has grown up this year to become a serious threat to Apple, and carriers are selling Android phones like hotcakes. This ultimately is another marketing distraction, as the current advances in touch capability, display formats, and mobile processors will eventually plateau as well. Once again, Notebooks will take over where smartphones left off.

It’s interesting to note that netbooks were also the next best thing that was supposed to kill the mobile market of notebooks. For a little bit, netbooks really were a threat to notebooks. Only when people started realizing that the screen was too small or the processor was too underpowered to be a true notebook replacement did the market start tapering off and eventually decline. You see, as much as people want to love the form factor and sleekness of a tablet or a smartphone, neither of these has actually replaced the functionality of a Windows or Mac OS computer. So, the current frightening collapse of the notebook market is likely only temporary. Until businesses and people who seriously depend on mobile productivity can reliably use a tablet, notebooks aren’t going anywhere. 

Poll: Do tablets spell doom for the notebook market? Vote above in the sidebar.

Poll

Is the tablet market a serious threat to Netbook/Notebook sales?

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Microsoft: No CDMA Windows Phone 7 devices until 2011

Next Story

Gmail offering high resolution video chat via Labs

63 Comments

View more comments

How the hell there arises a comparison with a single ipad and vast notebooks, apple yet dont even produce 1m ipads a month (correct me if i am wrong) so how are you comparing billions of units with hardly few millions, and in my own views typing is pain on ipad because you have to always keep your fingers in air and just cant keep it at rest like in keyboard.

Please explain me how charts are negative? are manufacturers buying laptops instead of manufacturing them?

Shishant said,
How the hell there arises a comparison with a single ipad and vast notebooks, apple yet dont even produce 1m ipads a month (correct me if i am wrong) so how are you comparing billions of units with hardly few millions, and in my own views typing is pain on ipad because you have to always keep your fingers in air and just cant keep it at rest like in keyboard.

Please explain me how charts are negative? are manufacturers buying laptops instead of manufacturing them?

The number of sales has decreased. If I ship 100,000 units and the following year I ship 95,000 units my total sales has grown -5% - its bad English on the part of the article writer.

How about the fact that other than HP Envy no one can still make decent looking notebook that can compete with aesthetics of a Mac. I know this shows all sales but I've been holding off on a good notebook since i5s arrived and unfortunatley in Canada Dell is the only thing that is worth the $ and they havent visually updated their line for almost 2 years. That and the fact that only nVidia based cards can do video switching despite the fact that the processor & chipset has supported it since last January; stab at you ATI now AMD.

tntomek said,
How about the fact that other than HP Envy no one can still make decent looking notebook that can compete with aesthetics of a Mac. I know this shows all sales but I've been holding off on a good notebook since i5s arrived and unfortunatley in Canada Dell is the only thing that is worth the $ and they havent visually updated their line for almost 2 years. That and the fact that only nVidia based cards can do video switching despite the fact that the processor & chipset has supported it since last January; stab at you ATI now AMD.

Dell really is slacking. The Studio XPS is a nice looking machine, but as you said it is about two years old now, and the 13" version of it is no longer sold. I really like my Studio XPS 13, but hopefully the next model comes out soon because I would consider an upgrade to an i5 13" laptop that looks at least as nice as my SXPS13 but preferably a bit more battery life and a little bit thinner, thought I don't mind the thickness of mine so much.

mrp04 said,

Dell really is slacking. The Studio XPS is a nice looking machine, but as you said it is about two years old now, and the 13" version of it is no longer sold. I really like my Studio XPS 13, but hopefully the next model comes out soon because I would consider an upgrade to an i5 13" laptop that looks at least as nice as my SXPS13 but preferably a bit more battery life and a little bit thinner, thought I don't mind the thickness of mine so much.

It is that precise market that the HP Pavilion dm1z/dm3z/dm3t have come in and raided. Because of the small screen size (barely bigger than HP's Mini, and the same general size as your 13" Studio XPS (which Dell no longer carries - a major error there)), I think of them as "power netbooks". Pretty much the only use you won't put these portable flamethrowers to is gaming, and that is *entirely* due to their small screen real-estate; the large (500 GB+) hard drives, 4 GB of system RAM, dual-core processors, and 7 x64 inside means that they certainly have the chops for it. (Most of these models have HDMI-out, which means that connecting a larger screen, for tasks as plebian as presentations or as outrageous as big-screen gaming, is as easy as connecting anything else.) And if you think that AMD notebook parts can't do video switching, obviously you haven't seen anything with AMD's 78xG notebook chipsets - any of three different dual-core CPUs (Turion64 or one of two different models of A-II Neo), HD4200 graphics (and uses the same Catalyst driver suite as the desktop GPUs, and supports DX10), and HDMI-out (as I mentioned before, for everything from big-screen presentations to big-screen gaming); most importantly, they have barely-larger-than-netbook price tags as well. For most folks, single-core (typical netbook) is not powerful enough, but i5 Mobile is overkill.

The iPad could be the blame, but only to a point. If all you want si interent, facebook and twitter and email and this is all you were using a note/netbook for, then the iPad or any computer similar will work.

Tablets PC's usually come with software or have a software that can edit MSFT documents. Most people rarely use productivity software outside the office.

Even though I have Office at home, I only use Outlook and Visio. Both of which aren't available with mobile equivalents. I have the others Office apps only if I get a document from someone, which again is very rare as all of that info can be placed in an email. Only at work do I use Office and again it is on occasion. Which is why many state that Open Office is more than enough and many businesses could do away with Office altogether and many have.

But for a businessman/woman who are always on the go, a tablet would be perfect as long as they can have the Office on the go as well. With the introduction of Office Online, many just may find a tablet can totally replace a laptop.

I know iWors though stripped down is available on iPad, but MS could easily make Word and Excel as a full software avail on iPad or even their own device. Word and Excel and even PowerPoint and Outlook are not resource hungry apps.

I can only see it as this. Even tho the desktop PC is more power than a console, devs choose to push software for consoles only and only make a Windows/Mac version in some cases. With the PC being so powerful, you don't need consoles. But you are forced to buy them because if you have a favorite game and its only on the console, you have to buy it to play it. Same with Windows/Mac/iOS software. Many apps can be prted to these devices, but if they did that; the PC makers would see drastic loses in sales. They would be force to make a new form factor because the other will be less popular.

It is obvious these pad-like computers will get more power. The issue with more power is it also uses more battery life. But if a user can get at least a 1/2 days usage out of a portable device that has the power of a laptop, then laptop would not be needed anymore.

But if you already own a powerful desktop, and you have a powerful laptop that you just bought since 2007. You really don't need a new computer for at least 3 - 5 years. It si a rotating cycle. If everyone went and bought a new laptop last October with Windows 7, who needs a new laptop now? Any laptop made before 2006 will not run Windows 7 very well if at all as many before 2004 won't have a fast enough CPU. Thus these users unless they are just sticking with XP, won't buy a new Windows 7 machine until they absolutely have too. Once MS stops supporting XP, there will be another mas move. The last few XP holders will opt for Windows 7 or Windows 8 (or whatever it gets called).

If the pad computer can do all of the basic tasks, it stands to reason you will see huge sales at first. This is why PC makers are trying to release on now while the demand is high. Because the demand is going to fall within 3 years once the market is saturated.

Apple is ahead now simply because they were first. They created the demand and certainlt can't make a device to satisfy that demand. Other OEM's will have to help and they will do so with beter devices. Android is going to beat Apple before anyoen else does and if MSFT can scale Windows enough they could be next. The question is, will the market be so saturated that no one will even consider this form factor anymore?

The only people who really need a laptop/netbook are business people. Many people with a laptop wouldn't buy one if they had an near equal alternative. The iPad is that for many and is a replacement because many bought a laptop because it was the only mobile platform. Smartphone came an grabbed a bit of that market too as people can tweet and facebook and email and text without carry a huge laptop all day. 4" smartphones are even better and the new 7" tabs are even better. Teh ipad is simply to big for anyone trying to get away from carry a huge laptop.

But again, the iPad is having huge sale because there was no smaller equal alternative to it. But there is now. Just watch the market. I am better, the top 5 tablets sold, the Ipad which has the lead now will fall to 3rd place in a year or less as Android versions continue to popup. Once the OS catches up to the form factor, you can expect sales to double the following year and manufacturing gets faster. Then after that sales will slow and laptop sales will pick up because the luster of the smaller form factor will where off. And once the limitation start to show once the shine wears off, they will all go cowarding back to the computer with the most potential.

WOAH. Please condense your comment a little. From the first paragraph I got that you think a smartphone based tablet is a viable alternative to a real computer. I will have to disagree. A netbook worth half as much as an iPad can do a ton more stuff. Video chat, multi-tasking, or even saving any file on the internet to its hard disk and manipulating it.

TechieXP said,
The iPad could be the blame, but only to a point. If all you want si interent, facebook and twitter and email and this is all you were using a note/netbook for, then the iPad or any computer similar will work.

Tablets PC's usually come with software or have a software that can edit MSFT documents. Most people rarely use productivity software outside the office.

Even though I have Office at home, I only use Outlook and Visio. Both of which aren't available with mobile equivalents. I have the others Office apps only if I get a document from someone, which again is very rare as all of that info can be placed in an email. Only at work do I use Office and again it is on occasion. Which is why many state that Open Office is more than enough and many businesses could do away with Office altogether and many have.

But for a businessman/woman who are always on the go, a tablet would be perfect as long as they can have the Office on the go as well. With the introduction of Office Online, many just may find a tablet can totally replace a laptop.

I know iWors though stripped down is available on iPad, but MS could easily make Word and Excel as a full software avail on iPad or even their own device. Word and Excel and even PowerPoint and Outlook are not resource hungry apps.

I can only see it as this. Even tho the desktop PC is more power than a console, devs choose to push software for consoles only and only make a Windows/Mac version in some cases. With the PC being so powerful, you don't need consoles. But you are forced to buy them because if you have a favorite game and its only on the console, you have to buy it to play it. Same with Windows/Mac/iOS software. Many apps can be prted to these devices, but if they did that; the PC makers would see drastic loses in sales. They would be force to make a new form factor because the other will be less popular.

It is obvious these pad-like computers will get more power. The issue with more power is it also uses more battery life. But if a user can get at least a 1/2 days usage out of a portable device that has the power of a laptop, then laptop would not be needed anymore.

But if you already own a powerful desktop, and you have a powerful laptop that you just bought since 2007. You really don't need a new computer for at least 3 - 5 years. It si a rotating cycle. If everyone went and bought a new laptop last October with Windows 7, who needs a new laptop now? Any laptop made before 2006 will not run Windows 7 very well if at all as many before 2004 won't have a fast enough CPU. Thus these users unless they are just sticking with XP, won't buy a new Windows 7 machine until they absolutely have too. Once MS stops supporting XP, there will be another mas move. The last few XP holders will opt for Windows 7 or Windows 8 (or whatever it gets called).

If the pad computer can do all of the basic tasks, it stands to reason you will see huge sales at first. This is why PC makers are trying to release on now while the demand is high. Because the demand is going to fall within 3 years once the market is saturated.

Apple is ahead now simply because they were first. They created the demand and certainlt can't make a device to satisfy that demand. Other OEM's will have to help and they will do so with beter devices. Android is going to beat Apple before anyoen else does and if MSFT can scale Windows enough they could be next. The question is, will the market be so saturated that no one will even consider this form factor anymore?

The only people who really need a laptop/netbook are business people. Many people with a laptop wouldn't buy one if they had an near equal alternative. The iPad is that for many and is a replacement because many bought a laptop because it was the only mobile platform. Smartphone came an grabbed a bit of that market too as people can tweet and facebook and email and text without carry a huge laptop all day. 4" smartphones are even better and the new 7" tabs are even better. Teh ipad is simply to big for anyone trying to get away from carry a huge laptop.

But again, the iPad is having huge sale because there was no smaller equal alternative to it. But there is now. Just watch the market. I am better, the top 5 tablets sold, the Ipad which has the lead now will fall to 3rd place in a year or less as Android versions continue to popup. Once the OS catches up to the form factor, you can expect sales to double the following year and manufacturing gets faster. Then after that sales will slow and laptop sales will pick up because the luster of the smaller form factor will where off. And once the limitation start to show once the shine wears off, they will all go cowarding back to the computer with the most potential.

If you do some research on this you will see that SFF is not a fad and is indeed the future .
ipad and the app store is not going anyplace any time soon and android is not all its cracked out to be by a long shot

I buyed my laptop in 2007, but as the crysis affected me I didn't have $ to buy another one, anyway - I won't give a notebook for a Pad device, I don't need a virtual keyboard =(.

I've had my laptop for something like four years now (Got it from Circuit City, big mistake there). It has worked fine for me since I bought it, and with what I do, there's no need to spend my summer's paycheck on a new computer. Since installing 7, it runs like a champ. I can run Photoshop fine, play the games I want (although not always at best quality), and get my online courses done. I don't plan on a new computer til a) this one finally conks out, or b) I get the kind of money to easily distribute funds to computer upgrading.

Perhaps other people are in my position? The world as of late isn't really in the position for constant upgrading of tech. This is Neowin though, so I'm assuming it's important to most of us, but the common population? Not so much.

It's amazing how much credit Apple gets that it has not earned.

Apple released a product. Did it imapct the market? Yes, yes it did.

Is it solely responsible for a change in notebook sales? No and it's incredibly naiive to think that it could be. Believe it or not, there are more things that can affect sales in an entire sector than one product entering the market as we see in the comments above.

You need a computer to control the iPad. Most (there certainly are some exceptions) people are not buying an iPad without a reasonably new computer.

At the same time, the market is in a slump overall due to the bad economy. I have the feeling that plays much more into than just the iPad.

Random person said to themselves,
Do I need that new laptop? No, my current one is okay since my budget is tight.

Sales have only gone down 4% after 11 months straight growth (with one month being 70%!), did anyone think that maybe the slower growth following December was due to Christmas being over, and most people that wanted to upgrade to something running Windows 7 have?

People give Apple way too much credit...last I heard the iPad was selling at best 1 million a month, while notebooks are more like 1 million every other day...

JonathanMarston said,
Sales have only gone down 4% after 11 months straight growth (with one month being 70%!), did anyone think that maybe the slower growth following December was due to Christmas being over, and most people that wanted to upgrade to something running Windows 7 have?
In general, I too see it as less of a problem, and the graph means very little because the months side-by-side have extremely different weights attached to them in terms of meaning.

Seeing as it's year-over-year, which should mean that August's growth is compared to August's growth from last year, and not compared to July. So, compared to August 2009, August 2010 shrunk by just 4% compared to last August's sales, which is actually a little concerning for laptop makers because Windows 7 was not even released yet, although there was the coupon that guaranteed a free copy (I believe). This is on top of a new school year starting, which generally should mean a few extra laptops are being bought for incoming Freshmen.

Anyway, I attribute the very minor dip to a slow economy forcing people to make-do with what they already have, and hardly to the iPad, which requires a computer to use to its full potential anyway.

This news is for official trolling... There is no connection between ipad with laptop sales.
Netbook vs ipad? Maybe...
Most people bought their first laptops to refresh their desktop computer. Now everyone has a laptop, so they dont need to buy another laptop...
Netbook sales wil drop too...

Dead'Soul said,
This news is for official trolling... There is no connection between ipad with laptop sales.
Netbook vs ipad? Maybe...
Most people bought their first laptops to refresh their desktop computer. Now everyone has a laptop, so they dont need to buy another laptop...
Netbook sales wil drop too...

It's all about page views ... remember, the author of on article on Neomac gets pay by views and comments.

Maybe its due to the specs outpasing need? IF you have a laptop with a core 2 duo or greater yo ureally dont need a new laptop. I have a core 2 duo laptop with 4 gigs ram ,running windows 7 and i do not see a need to upgrade it with something else.

The problem is unless you heavily game on your laptop you dont need an upgrade.

majortom1981 said,
Maybe its due to the specs outpasing need? IF you have a laptop with a core 2 duo or greater yo ureally dont need a new laptop. I have a core 2 duo laptop with 4 gigs ram ,running windows 7 and i do not see a need to upgrade it with something else.

The problem is unless you heavily game on your laptop you dont need an upgrade.

Indeed, even the fairly cheapo laptops from the last year or so have had Dual core CPU's, 3 - 4 GB ram and 160GB+ Hard-drives.

dragon2611 said,

Indeed, even the fairly cheapo laptops from the last year or so have had Dual core CPU's, 3 - 4 GB ram and 160GB+ Hard-drives.

That's why I mentioned HP's current Pavilion dm1z, dm3z, and dm3t - they directly replace the Pavilion dv4 and dx4 models of 2009's Yule shopping season. Despite their 14" and 15" 4:3 screens, these portable flamethrowers (even the 2009 models) have solid dual-core CPUs, large (320 GB to 500 GB in the case of the 2009 models, and 500 GB to 750 GB for the current models) hard drives, DL DVD burners (almost all with Lightscribe support), 7 Home Premium x64, and the AMD-powered models all have HDMI-out (again, even the 2009 models). You're thinking you need a BMW 7 Series (to use the automobile analogy) when a 3 Series, or even a 1 Series, will do the same job, with much less wallet impact.

One of two reasons comes to mind. The most likely, individuals who purchased a notebook already don't want another (and are less likely to get the latest in greatest in this economy). Second, at least a few are sick and tired of being burned by a number of faults specific to notebooks... i.e. like failure rate of GPUs, general overheating and other issues.

ipad is fad, people will always need a good laptop. I wish they would make better laptops though instead of sticking us with old cpu's that are outdated.

ipad is far from a fad , and from the looks of things the app store and the sales are a sign that the ipad when put together with a home pc or netbook only for sync reasons are very cool

i trashed my home pc and got a HP netbook and now at home i sync my ipad to the netbook and then im good to go. its easy and i can put my netbook back in a drawer untill i need it again.

with the next IOS update we can even print from the ipad and so much more.

Good luck to all the college students doing book reports, resumes, cover letters and thesis' on their iPad that they got to impress drunk people.

Commenting is disabled on this article.