The netbook category is the hottest computer category posting the largest growth numbers in all of the market. Many consumers are choosing netbooks because they offer a low price entry into computing. Some are buying netbooks not for the price, but for the portability that the machines offer.
ABI Research announced today that it expects 35 million netbooks to ship in 2009. According to the research firm, social and technological factors have worked together to create a sort of perfect storm for the netbook market in the next few years.
Forecasts by the research firm predict that by 2013 139 million netbooks will be shipping. ABI's Kevin Burden said in a statement, "PDA’s began our reliance on instant accessible data while traveling. When PDA functionality converged with cellular voice, smartphones became the new darling of mobile professional technology that many expected to evolve into the hub for all data and communication needs for travelling professionals. Today, with a better understanding for what a smartphone is, is not, and may never be, along with a reality check on the usefulness of UMPCs, the market remains open for new device types."
Burden points out that low-cost and power miserly x86 and ARM CPUs has been the key to the netbook revolution. These processors allow users to get very close to their normal desktop or notebook computer experience in a much smaller package that offers longer battery life in most instances.
Burden continued saying, "In recent years, the industry still expected the smartphones to be more than they turned out to be, and most recently, MIDs were thought to be the next big mobile devices segment, but an unclear usage model continues to confuse the market. So today, netbooks’ time has come, and ABI research expects them to enjoy very strong market growth."
However, some analysts predict that increasing sales of netbooks is a bad thing for the CPU market. As the majority of sales begins to center on low-cost, and low profit netbook CPUs sales of more profitable CPUs may drop.