Yes, the iPad is usurping sales from the notebook and no it is not, depending on which analyst tickles your fancy.
PC sales, especially notebooks, have been weaker in the past few months, but this is due mainly to the backslide in Windows 7-based PC sales after an initial surge, said NPD VP industry analysis Ross Rubin.
Mac/PC analyst Tim Bajarian in PC Magazine sees it differently. “Our research shows that interest in tablets has dampened the demand for netbooks…Netbook sales slowed down in the US last spring—though they seem to have done relatively well during the summer and in the early back-to-school season. However, PC vendors tell me that they expect demand for netbooks during the holiday to be down. The demand for notebooks may be affected as well.”
Bajarian adds, “The fact is that people are stopping and looking seriously at the potential role of a tablet in their lives. This is not yet a major trend, but it is one that the PC industry needs to look at closely…. The bigger question is whether this tablet trend will knock out netbooks altogether. It’s too early to tell, but I suspect that demand for netbooks will shift to emerging markets and education, while mainstream consumption decreases over time…”
NPD sees it this way: Yes, notebook sales are dropping particularly in the price range where the iPad competes–$500-$1000. Notebook sales in this sector fell by 11 percent over 2009. However, this sector was already in a steep decline prior to the iPad’s launch and the rate of decline has actually slowed since the iPad was introduced (there was a 26 percent drop in mid-priced notebooks in 2009 over 2008).
Ross says, “None of this should be construed to make a case that NPD does not believe the iPad is a great product or doing extraordinarily well in the market. The tablet/pad market will likely be strong in 2011 and impact different segments of PC sales at that time…however, unless you have actual data making the claim that the iPad is destroying the PC market based on hearsay and innuendo is the worst case of rumor mongering.”
Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn also unwittingly weighed in on the debate last week.