What is a Netbook computer?
A Netbook is a new type of laptop computer, defined by size, price, horsepower, and operating system. They are small, cheap, under-powered, and run either an old or unfamiliar operating system.
Netbooks run either Windows XP Home edition or Linux (not only is Linux unfamiliar to many, but the versions of Linux on Netbooks are not the mainstream popular distributions). They do not run XP Professional, Vista, or OS X. Microsoft arbitrarily restricts Netbooks from running the Professional Edition of Windows XP. Likewise, Apple arbitrarily restricts OS X to Apple hardware and it has never played in the low-end realm that Netbooks occupy.* Vista requires too much horsepower to run well on a Netbook. HP has been the only company to offer Vista on a Netbook. The price, however, was so high that it's debatable whether such a machine qualifies as a Netbook.
The market for netbooks -- small notebook PCs with even tinier prices -- exploded in the third quarter of this year, according to market researcher DisplaySearch LLC, as vendors aimed their wares at students during the back-to-school season.
The global market for netbooks, also known as mini-notebooks, was 5.61 million in the third quarter, up 160% from the second quarter, according to a statement today from DisplaySearch, an Austin-based research firm.
Acer Inc. displaced Asustek Computer Inc. (Asus) as the netbook market leader for the first time during the quarter, taking 38.3% of the market, compared to 30.3% for Asus.
Netbook global sales in the third quarter of 2008 hit 5.61 million units, an increase of 160% from the second quarter. Acer was at the top of the list with a 38.3% market share of all those units. With a 2008 sales level of 14 million units (over 2007's one million sold), the market for netbooks is still relatively small, but the growth is explosive. The question is this: how much margin are manufacturers gaining on these small-priced PCs? In the latest quarter, HP was in third place and Dell was in fifth place, but Acer and Asus are completely stealing the show. If the netbook trend follows in 2009, Acer -- the king of low retailer PC prices -- should stay on top until this fad is over.