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Market watcher heralds 'Age of the Notebook'

More laptops than desktops shipped in Q3, apparently

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More laptops shipped in Q3 than desktops, the first time this has ever happen during a given quarter, apparently.

So said market watcher iSuppli today, though a close look at its numbers show there's not a lot in it: 38.6m notebooks to 38.5m desktops. What's a 100,000 units among friends? Laptop shipments were up 40 per cent year on year, while desktop shipments were down by just 1.3 per cent.

In short, it's not so much desktops losing the war - or even becoming unpopular - as laptops winning it. As the PC market grows, it's the mobile segment that's taking all the extra sales, essentially.

No great surprise here: way back in April, Intel said it had begun selling more mobile CPUs than desktop processors.

Will growth continue? iSuppli certainly thinks so - it's anticipating world PC shipments to rise 4.3 per cent in 2009, down on 2008's year-on-year increase of 13 per cent - that's what iSuppli is forecasting, anyway - and lower than the bean counter's previous prediction, of 11.9 per cent growth.

Is this really the start of the "age of the notebook", a period when "the notebook PC is no longer a tool only for the business market, or a computer for the well-off consumer; it’s now a computer for everyone", as iSuppli puts it?

We'd actually date the start of such an epoch - if it really warrants being heralded as such; we're not sure it does - to at least this time last year when the market began to be flooded with dirt cheap (for late 2007) 15in notebooks, the product of a glut of LCD panels of that size.

More to the point, will it continue? It's easy to be cheerful about Q3 shipments, but Q3 ended more than two-and-a-half months ago. The real state of affairs will only be clear when Q4's numbers are in and we see what toll recession and government countermeasures have had.

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