Analyst: Notebooks outship PCs for first time

Dec. 23, 2008 – Global quarterly notebook PC shipments exceeded those of desktops for the first time ever in 3Q08, a “watershed event” for the industry, according to new data for iSuppli Corp.

Notebook PC shipments rose nearly 40% Y/Y in 3Q to about 38.M units, while desktop systems declined by 1.3% to 38.5M units.

There was a certain inevitability in this crossover, notes Matthew Wilkins, principal analyst for compute platforms at iSuppli, in a statement — momentum has been building in the notebook market for a while, while on the PC side it’s a tipping point that this “marks the start of the age of the notebook,” where the system is no longer niched into B2B or deep-pocketed consumers, but “it’s now a computer for everyman.”

Total worldwide PC shipments rose 15.4% in 3Q to 79M units, actually exceeding iSuppli’s expectations (12%) even as the global economic meltdown’s impact was just being understood. The top five PC OEMs kept their spots (HP, Dell, Acer, Lenovo, Toshiba), with best Y/Y growth enjoyed by Taiwan’s Acer (45% Q/Q, 78.8% Y/Y) while Toshiba (24.6% Y/Y) also outpaced the industry’s average. Acer now trails No. 2 Dell by <2 percentage points of market share after shipping 3M units more in 3Q08 than the previous quarter, a sign that "the company's netbook strategy is paying dividends," Wilkins notes.

After being “encouraged” by the better-than-expected 3Q PC shipment numbers, iSuppli has slightly tweaked its FY08 unit growth forecast, to 13.0% from 12.5%; its revised outlook for 2009 calls for a pullback to 4.3% growth.


Worldwide PC shipments, 3Q08 (units × 1000). (Source: ISuppli Corp.)

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