Revenue from the mini-laptops rose to $11.4 billion, a 72% increase from $6.7 billion in 2008, DisplaySearch said. Sales of all portable PCs fell 12% to $109.4 billion from $117.1 billion last year.
By category, year-to-year sales of ultra-portables, defined as having displays between 11 inches and 13 inches, fell 23% to $6.9 billion; portables, 13 inches to 16 inches, droped 13% to $80.3 billion; and desktop replacements declined 12% to $10.8 billion.
While netbook sales outpaced the market as a whole the trend is not expected to continue. DisplaySearch expects year-to-year revenue be flat next year, as computer makers release ultra-portables with more horsepower for not much more money.
Netbooks, which have displays between seven and 10 inches and cost as little as $300, are best suited for only basic computer tasks, such as Web browsing and e-mail. The mini-laptops have sold well to people looking for a second PC and in emerging markets where people do not need all the features of a mainstream laptop.
"Our long-term outlook is that the mini-note share of the notebook PC market has stabilized, and will remain at approximately 20% through 2011 before starting to erode," John F. Jacobs, director of notebook market research for DisplaySearch, said in a statement. "While mini-notes offer lower ASPs (average sales prices) and are thinner and lighter than notebook PCs, the performance of larger notebook PCs continues to improve while prices continue to steadily decline, increasing the performance gap while narrowing the price gap."
Next year, sales of mobile PCs, not including netbooks, will drop 1% year-over-year to $96.6 billion, according to DisplaySearch. Revenue from all portable PCs will also fall 1% to $108 billion. By category, sales of ultra-portables will decline 6% and portable PCs by 4%. Revenue from desktop replacements, on the other hand, will rise by 21%.
While falling prices pushed revenues down, computer makers shipped more product year-over-year in 2009. DisplaySearch says shipments of all portable PCs rose 16% to 169.6 million units. In 2010, that number will increase 17% to 197.8 million units.