iPad Doing to the Netbook What the Netbook Did to the Laptop?
Apple’s iPad may not be cannibalizing sales of the company’s Macs, but it is evidently playing havoc with sales of netbooks. According to new research from Morgan Stanley (MS) analyst Katy Huberty, growth in U.S. netbook sales has been declining since January, the month during which Apple (AAPL) officially announced its much anticipated slate device.
“US consumer PC, and especially notebook, growth decelerated in January when Apple introduced the iPad and again in April when the iPad launched,” Huberty wrote in a note to clients this morning. “Given the corresponding increase in ASPs in the market, we believe much of the demand shortfall came from netbooks and low-cost notebooks.”
Adding detail, Huberty writes, “What’s more, US retail netbook unit growth decelerated to about 5 percent YoY in April from 25 percent in March and 53 percent in February, according to NPD.”
Quite a change from the first quarter of 2009, when netbook sales leapt 872 percent and market researchers were projecting that they would capture a big share of the worldwide market for the year at the laptop’s expense.
Clearly things have changed quite a bit since then, and while there are surely other factors at work here–a saturated market, perhaps (clearly 872 percent growth isn’t sustainable) and the debut of Windows 7–it’s tough not to look at the chart below (click to enlarge) and conclude that consumers in the market for netbooks just might be reappraising their needs in light of the emergence of the iPad. But whether that is the driving factor in the slowing growth of U.S. netbook sales is clearly an open question.
One final point worth making here: Apple itself is not immune from cannibalization at the hands of the iPad. According to Huberty, the device may soon begin to eat into sales of the iPod touch as well.