In case you haven't been paying attention, the netbook sector is one of the hottest areas in the PC market. Demand has been so high that, despite a weakening global economy, mini-notebooks have played a large role in worldwide PC shipments reaching 80.6 million units in the third quarter of 2008. That's a 15 percent jump from this same time last year. Ironically enough, economic woes might be exactly the reason why sales have been so good.
"In the North America market, the economic crunch created more interest in the sub-$500 segment," noted Mika Kitagawa, principal analyst for Gartner's Client Computing Markets group. "Because the mini-notebook is still a new segment, it is too early to determine if the emerging segment created new market opportunities, or if it cannibalized lower priced systems."
Gartner notes that Asus and Acer have been two of the bigger beneficiaries of the emerging mini-notebook sector, as both companies "had a strong focus and acted quickly." As a result, other vendors are playing catch-up, but it might prove difficult to reach the same level of market expansion that Asus and Acer have been able to reach. Acer especially had a good third quarter, recording a 47 percent growth in worldwide PC unit shipments from Q3 2007.