Tablets cannibalise netbooks in mobile PC race

As predicted from those who make a living convincing us they’re in the know, mobile PC shipment momentum is beginning to sink in growth – from 30 percent year on year in 2010 to 27 percent in 2011. Or 277.7 million units. But the culprit is mini-notes, or netbooks.

Netbook shipments are slowing overall growth along with hesitation in emerging markets, but notebook and tablet growth is, as expected, performing well according to analysts at DisplaySearch.

While mini-notes and emerging markets were once high growth, they’re letting the team down for 2011.

Netbooks are suffering as the world and its knackered, wheezing, dying dog attempt to knock out their own tablet computers, the current high-growth trend. Shipments for mini-notes are down about 20 percent year on year to 25.4 million units in 2011.

Although they will remain in the market it will be for areas where price is a particular consideration like in emerging markets and education.

Displaysearch thinks tablet shipments have taken a slight beating in the first half of 2011 as manufacturers ponder how to place their competitors in the market against Apple’s mighty iPad.

But, when everyone realises what they’re working with, the second half of the year should offer some more clarity on the tablet market. In turn we’ll see a return to rapid growth, reaching 52.4 million units in shipments by the year’s end in mature markets. 

Tablet computing is a purely mature market phenomenon at the moment. Essentially reasonably powered tweet-machines, the tablet has not broken into emerging markets yet.

The consumer in emerging regions is after something which will deliver real use compared to the price-point and are going after the performance-oriented notebook PCs, rather than what DisplaySearch calls the “convenience-oriented” tablet. 

What is interesting is Intel’s recent idea to entrench its heels in Chinese territory, having announced a joint research project which will see if try to conquer the segment where slates are still in their infancy – barely a twinkle in Otellini’s eye.

Notebook PCs will remain the largest segment in mobile PCs, with a 20 percent year on year growth rate. Coupled with the tablet’s 150 percent year-on-year shipment growth, mobile PCs will remain strong in 2011 and there should be double digit growth.