Netbook sales growth has slowed down! Apple has sold a million iPads! Quick, someone make a chart and prove that there’s a causal relationship between the two facts.
That’s essentially what Morgan Stanley did this week, and many media outlets picked it up as gospel. But there’s no real evidence that the iPad has had any significant effect on netbook demand. As Ars Technica points out:
Inexpensive, compact netbooks were all the rage during the recent economic downturn, and the product segment enjoyed explosive growth over that period. However, that growth rate started falling heavily at the end of 2009; in April 2010, netbook sales only grew a mere 5 percent. Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty says the iPad is to blame for the stalled growth, but it seems more likely that netbooks have merely saturated their niche in the market.
Huberty noted in a recent report to clients that netbook sales growth plummeted after Apple announced the iPad in late January. She also looked at a March survey suggesting that 44 percent of US customers were planning to buy an iPad. Huberty concluded that they were now planning on getting an iPad instead of a new notebook or netbook, though we think the timing is more coincidental than anything else.
Sure, there’s no question that the iPad is a major success for Apple. However, during that same period when Apple sold a million iPads, as many as 5 million netbooks were sold, accounting for up to 18% of the PC market. And according to The Wall Street Journal, while the iPad is stealing some market share from small laptops, an entirely different machine is taking a bigger bite out of the netbook pie: larger, full-featured laptops.