Netbooks: Hey, remember netbooks? They're what all the tech geeks were talking about before the iPad. No? Let's jog your memory.
Netbooks were the little 10-inch, 1 GB mini-notebooks produced by Asus, Acer, HP (HPQ) and others that sported double-digit-percentage sales growth last year, according to NPD, and were poised to be the world's fourth screen. Research firm Techasie actually predicted 36 million netbook sales worldwide this year.
Then came the iPad and 43% growth from 2009 to 2010 turned into a 13% decline in April, according to Morgan Stanley (MS). Now, both Gartner and Forrester Research (FORR) predict that tablet sales will outstrip those of netbooks, with Forrester expecting a tablet takeover by 2012. Techasie hedged its 2010 prediction with a caveat that netbook sales would decline starting in 2011 through 2014. Techasie CEO Anurag Agrawal sealed the argument, saying "there is no compelling reason for a consumer or a business to buy a netbook as compared to a notebook." With tablets taking a chunk out of the netbook market and smartphones already performing some of their lighter duties, Agrawal may be right.