Over the past quarter, PC makers shipped more notebook PCs than desktops for the first time ever, marking a major milestone in the industry, according to market research firm iSuppli. While the number of units shipped worldwide during the third quarter looks relatively close -- 38.6 million notebook PCs vs. 38.5 million desktop PCS -- sales of notebook PCs experienced far more growth.
Figures released by iSuppli indicate notebook PC shipments rose almost 40 percent in the third quarter of 2008 compared to the same period of 2007. In contrast, desktop PC shipments dropped by 1.3 percent for the same period.
Not Too Surprising
Matthew Wilkins, who is principal analyst for computing platforms at iSuppli explains that, "Momentum has been building in the notebook market for some time, so it's not a complete surprise that [notebook] shipments have surpassed those of desktops."
At the same time, he points to the third-quarter news as a significant event in the PC market because it marks what he calls, "the start of the age of the notebook."
The notebook PC, he says, is no longer a tool only for the business market, or for well-off consumers; "it's now a computer for everyman."
HP and Dell Stay Strong, Acer Moves Ahead
Further data from the iSuppli report show no major changes among the relative rankings of the Top-5 PC makers during Q3, although Acer experienced significant growth.
U.S.-based Hewlett-Packard retained the top spot, with shipments of 14.9 million units, and an 18.8 percent market share. Fellow U.S. PC-maker Dell maintained second place, shipping just under 11 million units, netting a market share of 13.9 percent.
Taiwan-based Acer remained in third place with a market share of 12.2 percent resulting from shipments of 9.7 million during the quarter. The iSuppli report called out Acer, in particular, for its "standout performance" during the third quarter.
"On a sequential basis, the company grew its unit shipment market share by 45 percent, and by 79 percent on a year-over-year basis," Wilkins said. Acer shipped almost 3 million more notebooks in the third quarter than it did in Q2, with the majority of those 3 million being the company's netbook products. "Clearly, the company's netbook strategy is paying dividends," Wilkins said, "with Acer now trailing Dell by less than 2 percentage points of market share for all PCs."
Rounding out the list of Top-5 PC makers were Lenovo in the fourth spot with a market share of 7.5, and Toshiba Corp., ranked fifth with a 4.6 percent market share.
Looking beyond the Top-5 OEMs, the iSuppli report shows Apple in seventh place overall for PC shipments. Apple lost almost half a point of market share on a sequential basis, ending with a market share of 3.2 percent.
Taiwan-based ASUSTeK Computer Inc. reported a great performance, according to iSuppli, with its ASUS notebook shipments. The company surpassed Lenovo to become the fifth-largest notebook PC OEM, while retaining its position overall as the sixth-ranked PC OEM in terms of total PC shipments.
Screen Real Estate Growing Too
For those who think laptops and notebooks can't replace desktops in the long run because of their limited screen size, Lenovo has some interesting news. The company last week announced the upcoming release of the first laptop with two LCD screens.
The ThinkPad W700ds laptop sports a 17-inch main screen and a 10.6-inch second screen. Lenovo calls it a "mobile workstation," designed for power users who are accustomed to two screens when they sit at a desk.
The double-screened laptop will debut in January at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, with an expected release at about the same time.