Not so long ago, netbooks were red hot. The traditional notebook PC was losing steam and consumers gravitated toward smaller, lower cost netbook PCs with fewer features and capabilities. PC OEMs were selling tens of millions of netbooks per year.
But those days are gone, thanks to the rise of tablets. According to market research firm IHS iSuppli, shipments of netbooks are set to wind down to virtually zero afte next year.
IHS's latest compute electronics market tracker report projects that shipments of netbooks this year are set to fall to just 3.97million units this year, a 72 percent drop from 14.13 million last year. The netbook market peaked at 32.14 million shipments in 2010, according to IHS.
In 2014, IHS predicts that netbook shipments will plunge again to just 264,000 units. By 2015, shipments are projected to fall to zero.
"Netbooks shot to popularity immediately after launch because they were optimized for low cost, delivering what many consumers believed as acceptable computer performance,” said Craig Stice, senior principal analyst for compute platforms at IHS, in a statement.
According to Stice, netbooks were originally intended for light productivity tasks such as web browsing and email. But they eventually became more powerful, taking advantage of mature PC technology that enabled cost-effective implementation of more functionality. But their popularity began to descend after Apple's 2010 introduction of the the iPad, Stice said. Netbook shipments declined by 34 percent in 2011, IHS said.
"The iPad and other tablets came in a new form factor that excited consumers while also offering improved computing capabilities, leading to a massive loss of interest in netbooks,” Stice said.
Although not on the endangered species list just yet, mobile PCs have also been taking it on the chin since tablets showed up. Mobile PCs still retain the largest share of the overall PC market. In the fourth quarter of 2012, mobile PCs had about 63 percent share of the overall PC market compared to 34 percent from desktops and 3 percent for entry-level servers, according to IHS.
But IHS said mobile PCs continue to be sideswiped by the ongoing popularity of tablets. And new Ultrabooks and similar ultrathin PCs have yet to take off to the extent hoped for by manufacturers, according to the firm. Related stories:
A netbook is a heavily crippled small form factor laptop that's not allowed to have more than 1024x600 screen resolution or 1GB RAM.
Furthermore, its atom processor typically has about the same performance per core as at the introduction (2008?) (but 2 cores instead of 1), thereby making it unpractical for web surfing...
I have the feeling that netbooks are pointless now, as tablets and even phones have surpassed them, both in terms of cost and performance, even though I personally prefer the 'laptop' form factor for websurfing in the couch...
Exactly. Why try so hard to make a big deal over nothing?
Netbooks were a stepping stone to tablets, and really no different from tablets with detachable keyboards. They respond to the same market segment.
Nothing is going extinct. Things simply evolve.
Dylan should tell that great news and (mis) information to Google.
Google's Chromebook is a (next generation) netbook - with OS on "cloud" servers. What is correct is that the future of netbooks remains uncertain
At present definitions are:
-- Tablets don't have keyboard - only touch screens
-- Ultrabooks (or hybrids or convertibles) are the new/next form-factor of notebooks.
Many Ultrabooks have detachable touch-screen -- still if both they are simply a fast(er) growing form of notebooks (and Intel's bet in PCs).
There are also netbooks (Cloud client devices)- very lean because memory, application programs, etc, are on distant "cloud" servers. Google has been a big proponent of netbooks.
Netbooks were probably the coolest system concept Intel ever came up with next to the Centrino (Wi-Fi integrated) notebook which was a barn burner.
It's amazing netbooks got up to nearly 35m units a year.
But Intel's coolest idea of recent years pales in front of the consumer systems genius of the iPhone and iPad.
I admit I was a guinea pig and purchased a netbook back in early 2011 because of the low cost and promise of low, but adequate performance. Only the low cost portion lived up to the marketing hype. The machine lacked the ability to process or stream video at any acceptable level, and that created a quick trip to irrelevancy. It didn't even keep the attention of my children for more than 6 months.