Analysts argue about what drives netbook sales in the midst of articles about netbook disappointments, but the predications are clear: netbook shipments will double this year to around 32.7 million devices, according to Computerworld. The usual suspects are driving the sales boom, particularly the lower prices on netbooks at $300 - $500 are still hundreds of dollar less than most laptops, and marketing by cellular data network carriers.
However, laptops still sell more units, and this year should buyers will carry home about 130 million of them. Unfortunately for laptop vendors, that number is relatively flat compared to last year. So although laptops sell about four units for every netbook, the laptop sales trend is flat while the netbook sales trend keeps going up and up. That's why they get the “slump” label, because laptop shipments should at least increase as much as the growth of the buyer population.
No doubt we'll hear some competing numbers from other research firms, and get the actual numbers sold sometime next spring. But in a world of social media-driven perception, netbook fans will start putting on their dancing and looking for the laptop grave. They will be far too early, however, and be sorely disappointed by the life left in laptops.
Enjoy the jump in netbook sales for what it is, confirmation that many users find netbooks a great tool for that they need from technology at least part of the time. I know many people who have a desktop replacement laptop and a netbook, because lugging the laptop isn't worth the effort when they travel. Pick the tool for the job is my advice, and netbooks are the tool of choice in many cases. And this year, about double the number of buyers will reach that some conclusion.
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