Is Apple Killing the Netbook?

According to IHS iSuppli, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) may have been responsible for killing the market for netbooks, the small form-factor PCs that were meant to bridge the gap between smartphones and PCs.

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Netbook shipments peaked back in 2010, reaching 31.24 million units. Since then, the category’s shipments have been declining. For 2013, the netbooks are predicted to ship only 3.97 million units, almost a tenth the figure reported for 2010 and a 72 percent decline from 2012. Next year, netbooks are expected to ship a tenth of the number predicted for this year — 264,000 units. IHS predicts the category won’t even ship any devices in 2015, signalling the total death of the netbook.

The year that netbook shipments peaked was the same year that the iPad was launched. The two devices have since gone in the opposite direction in regards to sales. This suggests that the iPad is responsible for the death of the netbook…

When the netbook market began growing, Apple expressed no interest in creating one. In 2008, Steve Jobs said, “We don’t know how to make a $500 computer that’s not a piece of junk, and our DNA will not let us ship that.” Apparently, the company thought netbooks were pieces of junk, with lower performance and lower quality. Instead, the company went on to define the tablet category with the iPad, marking the beginning of the end for netbooks.

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Since netbooks are on the decline and iPads now account for one-sixth of all computer shipments, it would seem that Apple actually managed to find the device that could fit neatly between PCs and smartphones. The netbooks had their moment, but that moment looks to be coming to a close.

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