Acer surpassed Asustek in the third quarter as top netbook maker, as sales of the mini-laptops bucked the slowdown in the overall PC market, a research firm said Tuesday.
Acer shipped 2.15 million netbooks in the quarter to capture a 38.3% share, DisplaySearch said. Asus, which created the market late last year with the Eee PC, shipped 1.7 million units for a 30.3% share.
After the top two vendors, market share dropped considerably and was spread across numerous companies. Hewlett-Packard was third with 5.8%, followed by MSI, 5.7%; Dell, 2.8%; and OLPC (One Laptop Per Child), 2.3%.
Overall, vendors shipped 5.61 million units during the quarter. Netbooks are low-priced, low-margin laptops with screen sizes of 10 inches or less. The mini-machines typically run either Windows XP or Linux and are used primarily for e-mail and Web browsing. The systems cost less than $500, with $300 systems common.
DisplaySearch expects manufacturers to ship 14 million units this year, compared with less than 1 million last year. All the top PC makers have entered the market with the exception of Apple, which prefers to focus on high-end systems that carry much larger profit margins.
Driving the market is the demand for greater mobility among people. This is especially evident in certain geographies of the globe where a number of mini-laptop brands are partnering with telecom providers to subsidize netbooks much like they do mobile phones, DisplaySearch said.
"Worldwide demand for these products is forecast to grow rapidly over the next few years with demand from a variety of sources, including early adopters, consumer and enterprise PC customers seeking a smaller or secondary notebook PC, as well as new PC customers in emerging markets," John Jacobs, director of notebook research at DisplaySearch, said in a statement.
Analysts with industry report firm DisplaySearch predict the netbook market to settle at about 16% of the laptop PC market by 2011.
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