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Netbooks growing in popularity, says IDC

Cliff Saran

Take up of netbooks is accelerating according to analyst IDC. EMEA mini-notebook shipments reached 3.6 million units, in line with expectations, representing 20% of total portable sales and 30% of consumer portables in EMEA in 4Q08, the analyst said.

Positioned as a secondary device for internet-centric use and representing the first affordable ultra-portables in the retail channel, mini-notebooks drove strong consumer momentum and resulted in a major sales boom in 2H08, IDC said.

Eszter Morvay, research manager at IDC's EMEA personal computing group, said, "Following in the footsteps of Asus, there are currently more than 50 suppliers, from international players to local assemblers, with a mini-notebook offering across EMEA, which is clearly contributing to the ongoing buoyancy."

She said mobile phone operators have also been playing a pivotal role in the development of the EMEA mini-notebook market. While telco operators have been looking at the notebook market for some time to drive new revenue sources, mini -notebooks offer a better fit in terms of value proposition - small and attractive products at lower price therefore lower subsidy costs. Telco operators also offered additional exposure, which acted as a major accelerator of mini-notebook demand, she said.

According to IDC, most netbook suppliers have already set up partnerships with key pan-European telco operators, and will continue to expand this year, targeting second- and third-tier operators in each country. The market will also see a shift from USB to integrated 3G, supported by the plethora of new models coming out with this functionality, IDC predicted.

The analyst said that netbooks have proven that miniaturisation does not have to cost a fortune, and will force PC makers to rethink their ultra-portable offerings and pricing. New initiatives from AMD, Intel, and Microsoft will also help the industry to reinvent ultra-portables in more affordable packaging.


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