Will Netbook Sales Growth Slow to 0% in 2010? I Don’t Think So

According to DisplaySearch.com, every personal computer segment except one had a dramatically down growth year in 2009. The practically forgotten UMPC was down the most at -23% with portable, desktop, and notebook PCs all showing negative growth in the low teens. The lone growth segment was, of course the netbook (or Mini-Note as DisplaySearch calls it) with a gigantic 72% year-over-year growth.

Mini-Note (Netbook) Shipments Grow 103% Y/Y in 2009; Revenues Up 72%

I don’t think anyone is surprised by this information. What is surprising to me, however, is that DisplaySearch’s forecast for 2010 show netbook growth flat at -0.1% The big predicted winner for 2010? Hold on to your hats for this one: Desktop replacement PCs!

So, what do you think? Has the netbook’s spectacular rise reached its end? Is the netbook market saturated? I don’t think so. And, here’s why: Most of us probably amortize (either actually in terms of taxes or figuratively in our minds) traditional notebooks over a two to three year period (or more) because of their relatively higher cost (although notebook costs have dropped to well under $1000 in the past two years). Netbooks in the $250 to $350 range can be thought of in almost (if not actually) as an annual purchase item. I suspect people will start to think (if not already) of netbooks as having a 12 to 18 month replacement cycle because of their relatively low cost.