Notebooks finally outsell desktops for the first time

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While it happened in the US a little while ago, it’s finally gone global.  For the first time ever, notebooks have outsold desktops on a worldwide scale.  Research group iSuppli is reporting that largely thanks to the emergence of the netbook market, notebooks sold 38.6 million units in the third quarter of this year, while desktops moved just under that with 38.5 million units sold.

Strong netbook growth helped the notebook sector grow close to 40% over the same period of time in 2007.  The change in sales didn’t affect the top PC makers, however, as rankings by units shipped remained the same. 

The rankings are as follows:

Manufacturer Percent market share
HP 18.8 (14.9M shipped)
Dell 13.9 (11M shipped)
Acer 12.2 (9.7M shipped)
Lenovo 7.5
Toshiba 4.6

It’s easy to see from Acer’s monumental growth just how much netbooks are affecting the counts, as iSuppli reports that the company shipped close to three million more notebooks in Q308 than in Q2, with the lion’s share of those being netbooks.  While Dell has an interesting product in the space, they clearly need to be careful.  With only 1.7% market share separating the Round Rock giant from its closest competitor, they’d better have some tricks up their sleeves.

So what’s next?  Are desktops really going anywhere?  No, probably not.  It’s not terribly surprising to see notebooks outpacing desktop sales, especially when netbooks are factored into the equation.  A family may own one desktop as a central computer and several notebooks or netbooks.  Moreover,  there are a few market segments that notebooks, especially netbooks, won’t touch.  Companies are realizing the power of a stationary computer in more specialized arenas, such as home servers and HTPCs (Microsoft’s release of operating systems geared toward each purpose is clear proof of this).  All-in-ones are also seeing significant growth, especially with the release of models with unique features such as the HP TouchSmart series.  Finally, for raw power, the desktop computer simply can’t be touched.

So no, desktops won’t be going away anytime soon.  We’ll likely see them go through some changes, however, and maybe take a more minor role, but their sheer usefulness and feature set means they’ll be here for some time to come.


Further reading:

iSuppli press release



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