Global notebook sales finally beat desktops
PCs are up, Macs are down
Global sales of notebooks in the third quarter exceeded desktops for the first time in history, according to market watcher iSuppli.
"History," in this case, is of course a rather short period of time, what with the dawn of the personal computer era generally considered to have begun with the release of the MITS Altair 8800 in 1975 - though many a grizzled geek can provide a convincing argument about why the Altair doesn't deserve that honor.
Identifying the first notebook is a murkier proposition, but the Epson HX-20 came out in 1981 and the more-capable TRS Model 100 followed in 1983. Full-fledged "notebooks" they were not, but many a desk jockey relied upon them while on the road.
From the humble Epson HX-20, a mighty industry sprang forth
And now, after 25-plus years of being the underdog to what were, at first, far more capable desktops, the notebook has taken over the world. IDC had called the notebook's US victory back in October, but the new information from iSuppli makes it a worldwide win.
According to a report in the IEEE Times: "Notebook PC shipments rose almost 40 per cent in [the third quarter of 2008] compared to the same period in 2007 to hit 38.6 million units. Desktop PC shipments declined by 1.3 per cent for the same period to 38.5 million units."
Impressive. Equally impressive, however, is the fact that even as the economy was rapidly going down the dumper worldwide PC unit shipments rose to 79 million units, 15.4 per cent over the third quarter of 2007. All year, in fact, notebooks have kept the PC market rolling along, tracked by news stories such as Economy Hits US PC Sales, but Notebook growth remains strong in April and Notebook sales help boost Dell earnings in May.
Some of this growth, however, can be credited to the rise of the lower-cost netbook, seeing as how the little guys are counted along with full-fledged notebooks to total up the non-desktop figure. Again according to the IEEE Times when referring to the world's third-largest PC maker, Acer: "The company shipped nearly three million more notebooks in the third quarter than in previous quarter, the majority of them netbook products."
The news wasn't peachy for everyone, however. Apple, for example, saw its global market share dip by half a percentage point to 3.2 per cent. But there's even a silver lining to this cloud over Cupertino. As pointed out by the Silicon Alley Insider: "Apple... is increasingly a notebook company. If the trend toward notebooks continues - which we expect it will - Apple stands to gain market share."
But we can't resist adding our own two cents to that optimistic spin: Apple would best benefit from the Brave New Notebook World if and when it produces a netbook - and no, despite what some say, the iPhone 3G is not a netbook-beater. ®
Rise of the Hackintosh?
If Apple are mainly a notebook company rather than a desktop one (ignoring other sectors) then they have less business to lose from allowing OS X to run on generic PC hardware. It wouldn't hurt the small desktop market much but would introduce more people to OS X who would then go on to buy MacBooks.
Or it could just be...
one more effect of the Vista debacle which caused corporates to stop replacing workstations. Or possibly the effects of the economic melt down which also caused corporates to stop replacing workstations. Or maybe the fact that a computer bought today is barely faster than one bought 2 years ago and is actually slower once you install the newest bloatware on it.
Personally, in my company we bought no new computers thru 2008. We did buy a lot of motherboards and cheap RAM to rebuild old machines running Win2K and XP.
Yes, there are tons of other possible causes here, all of which were ignored by the article. But hey, there's a bandwagon going by - lets jump on and celebrate a "whole new era."
They are also pretty useful if you have a limited amount of space to use the computer, like if you mainly just use it for general web browsing in your front room on the coffee table, you can put it away when you are done and store it somewhere safe.
I see your point about buying them for gaming...It just isn't what they are good for. But I wouldn't agree they are all bottom of the range pieces of crap. You can get decent spec'd ones plenty good enough for most tasks other than gaming.
Of course for the same money you can get a desktop system which is much more up to date for the same money.
It's all down to personal preference. But as I said in my first comment there are a lot of people who buy them just because it is the cool thing to do these days.
Personally I take my computer around with me a lot, but don't use it on trains or anything like that as I drive everywhere. But it is very useful for me to have it to hand. The thing I don't understand is the huge 17"+ laptops.
I see how they are convenient to move around the house if you just want one computer to use in different rooms but you wouldn't want to regularly take one of those around with you ;-)
One of the main advantages of a laptop is the space you save and they generally run cooler which helps if you are using it in a small room that heats up fast!
Where I used to keep my desktop computer it would overheat in the summer months if it was a really hot day because the room would get way too toasty lol. Always found it funny but annoying.
A lot of non technical people buying computers, that's what this is about
Goat Jam, easy there, you'll give yourself a heart attack, man! ;-)
But yes, it is the non-technically savy people that are pulling the notebook sales up so much. Every girl I know, except for one, that is currently or has recently been looking for a new computer would rather get a laptop for her money. Reasons? "It's cute.", and: "I can type while lying on the bed." Well, I can certainly appreciate the latter reason, still, I guess that they haven't heared of wireless keyboards and remotes or seen the 22" monitor prices (not that that would do for serious work, though).
Students are a slightly different matter, they keep travelling between home and college and mey have really solid reasons to consider a laptop more practical.
I hate fricking notebooks
I mean, yeah, they have their place, when you just have to be able to use it on the run they are just fine and all, but so many people buy them for all the wrong reasons.
Too many times I've seen people buy notebooks because they are cuter/smaller/techier or whatever without having a real reason and without exception they are bottom of the range pieces of crap with minimal memory that is shared with the crappy intel graphics chip. Add to that the Celeron processor and 5200RPM hdd and you don't exactly have the latest gaming monster rig.
The trouble is though, that teenage son then expects to go and buy/download Crysis only to find it won't run properly on their "brand new" craptastic notebook.
In the worst cases, the boofhead teenager spills coke across the thing before they even get to that stage, totally destroying it without any hope of having it repaired under warranty.
If you don't need to move it around much, FOR CHRISAKES DON"T FRICKING BUY A LAPTOP!!
Paris, because she's the perfect laptop