It’s beginning to look like the netbook moment really was just that, a moment. CNet is reporting that IDC will later this week reveal numbers showing that the netbook phenomenon has “peaked,” noting that sales of Atom chi
ps, which power many netbooks, have declined significantly.
The market share of Atom processors among Intel mobile processors fell to 20 percent in Q1 2010, after being in the 23 percent to 25 percent range in 2009.
"Atom in Netbooks is plateauing," Shane Rau, an analyst at IDC, told CNET. "With the market recovery, I think end users are going to be looking for more value than just low-cost devices. This is an opportunity for higher-end mobile PCs, for example, that have better performance, bigger screens, bigger hard drives."
Netbooks seemed the perfect answer for budget-conscious consumers during the recession. And you have to admit, they are pretty cute. Their long term effect, though, while great for consumers, is not so great for the mini-computers themselves. The emergence of both the smartphone and netbook markets and their overall effect on the PC market between Q2 2008 and Q2 2009 led us to believe that full-sized was dead.
While there is convenience beyond the price – the weight is fantastic – after the initial buying wave, consumers began to notice the limitations. For example they come fully loaded with carpal tunnel syndrome. When you’re carrying a full-sized keyboard and mouse with you everywhere you go, the netbook’s portability is effectively offset.
At the same time, their incredible penetration drive down the prices of competing markets. Full-sized was no longer dead, it was affordable.
The iPad also hurt the netbook’s reputation, and probably affects sales as well. There are people who take Steve Jobs’ words as Gospel, so his high profile dismissal of netbooks hurt the device, and so does the fact that Apple’s tablet, which fits into the same space, has the perceived hipness that, for many consumers, justifies paying a few hundred dollars more for.