Netbook Sales Projections Are Way Low: Quick Reality Checks

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by: Kevin Lawton

According to the latest IDC projections, projected netbook sales will be 21.5 million in 2009. Now that is what I call conservative! If you're basing your business on projections, I strongly advise you do your own diligence here. Quick reality checks:

According to DisplaySearch, 5.6M netbooks were sold in Q3'08 alone (outpacing iPhone). I'm certain Q4'08 will be much higher but that's a yearly run-rate of 22.4M, and netbook sales are going exponential. A quick check on Amazon showed that all top-10 entries on the best-seller list for notebooks were netbooks/mini-laptops! They're cheap, and are substitutes for notebooks, especially when the World is getting hammered by a recession.

Looking forward, ARM netbooks will debut mid next year, likely with Android. And some with Ubuntu. Those aren't even factored in. Additionally, the European model of subsidizing netbooks with a wireless service plan has entered the US market, and will likely enter others, driving even faster adoption.

And did I mention educational Linux pickup? By the end of 2009, 52 million students in Brazil. Every school in Russia. And it just keeps going on. Could be 100 million new Linux users by end of 2009. I'm thinking a lot of them are going to have a netbook...

If you're still not a netbook believer, dumpster dive the Marvell Technology Group (NASDAQ:MRVL) F3Q09 Earnings Call transcript:

Over the last year or so, we have witnessed the emergence of the net book market place. We see these devices as early examples of a larger trend, which offers Marvell a high-volume market opportunity.

[...]

In our view, the potential to develop a converged mobile product, which would sell between US$100.00 to US$200.00 is only less than 12 months away. At this price point, we believe consumers within emerging markets will drive significant volumes far in excess of the current notebook PC market and likely equal a greater volume than smart phone markets.

Adding to the fire, I've seen a trend in blog reports of people dumping their big notebook computers, and using something smaller like a netbook, or just their smartphone. If anything, the combination of world recession, emerging markets, and educational Linux pick-up will accelerate netbooks sales. It would not surprise me to see IDC off by 50% on 2009 netbook sales.

Disclosure: no positions