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Mini-Notebook Shipments to Surpass 5 million Units
Aug 14, 2008
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Ultra-portable laptops are quickly gaining popularity, as individuals demand a more mobile computing lifestyle. According to research firm Gartner, shipments of mini-notebook computers are expected to surpass 5 million units in 2008. Mini-notebooks are defined as computing devices with a screen size of 5 to 10 inches that can run a full version of client operating system such as Windows XP or Linux.

Although mini-notebooks were developed as a low-cost educational tool, a wider variety of consumers have been using the devices for other uses, Gartner says. “The demand for mini-notebooks will be driven by several factors: by their small form factor and small screen, their light weight, their price, their ease of use and their basic, but sufficient, PC functionality,” said Annette Jump, director of research at Gartner. "Potential users are likely to include both first-time buyers seeking a low-cost introductory PC as well as experienced users seeking a low-cost second or third PC for themselves or a relative.” She noted the notebooks were being used now for Internet browsing, e-mail, content consumption, picture storage, communicating with friends and family, or other basic computer functions.

Gartner predicts the largest growth segment for mini-notebooks to be in the consumer category, eventually accounting for 70% of total mini-notebook distribution. Market positioning, price, ease of network connectivity, and support from channel partners and retailers will contribute to the shift of interest.

For 2008 and 2009, Gartner does not expect the mini-notebooks to directly compete with the mainstream mobile computer market. Performance differences between the two groups are significant at this point, the mini-notebooks fitting a separate niche in the market. If the gap in performance is reduced between these smaller devices and their larger counterparts, mini-notebooks will begin to compete in markets of low-end mobile computers or business mobile computers.

“For consumer mini-notebooks to succeed, they need to be positioned differently than standard notebooks." said Jump. "PC vendors will need to decide if the existing channels to market are appropriate and possibly look for new channels, such as telecom, gadget shops and so on.” The emergence of mini-notebooks into the consumer market is just beginning, but the potential exists for strong growth in the near future.

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