For $200, that same consumer can get a tablet with a sharper display and higher pixel density. The processor and RAM may seem similar on paper, but the ARM architecture, and a mobile OS like Android or iOS will deliver blazing performance instead of lagging and frustration. The $200 tablet is lighter, thinner, and can run all day on a single charge.
Granted, it's not entirely an apples-to-apples comparison. The netbook probably has a larger storage capacity, and it's capable of running standard Windows software. But, the tablet can do email, instant messaging, Web, social networking, and play games--which sums up about 90-plus percent of what most people need to do from a mobile device.
It's easy to see why (cheap) tablets will beat netbooks.
Why tablets are not a threat to notebooks
Look closely at the last sentence. I didn't say tablets will beat notebooks. I said cheap tablets will beat netbooks. That is really the crux of the data.
Overall, the data lumps cheap, economy netbooks in with real notebooks that provide the power of a full desktop PC on the go. It also mashes together bargain basement tablets with larger, more capable tablets that cost more.
There is some cannibalization of laptop sales. The simple reality is that many of the things people need to do can be done just as well or better from a tablet. And, even if we're talking about the 9 and 10 inch tablets that average in the $500 and $600 range, it's a more versatile, less expensive alternative to $1,000-plus notebooks.
That said, a tablet can't do everything a "real" computer can do. Businesses rely on tools and applications built for Windows--software that can only be run on most tablets through some sort of remote desktop solution that links back to a "real" PC. Notebooks have more internal storage, and more ports like USB, SD memory, and HDMI that are lacking on some tablets, and they're generally easier to upgrade or repair.
As Paul Thurrott recently pointed out, netbooks are the real threat to notebooks. The ridiculously low pricing for underpowered, plastic, disposable junk has created a false expectation and sense of entitlement in the market. Businesses and consumers balk at spending $1000 or $2000 on capable, quality notebook PCs.
When push comes to shove, cheap tablets are a threat to cheap netbooks, and tablets in general may chip away at overall notebook sales, but businesses still need powerful, capable laptops. It would be interesting to see a drill down that separates small tablets from large ones, and netbooks from notebooks to get a more accurate picture of how tablets are impacting real notebooks.