Low-cost PC Netbooks May Dent MacBook Sales

Low-cost PC Netbooks May Dent MacBook Sales

Aside from Christmas, the back-to-school market is one of the most profitable times for computer makers. Apple’s MacBook has virtually disappeared from Amazon’s top-selling notebook list during the period, according to ThinkEquity analyst Vijay Rakesh.

Instead, ‘netbooks,’ those ultra-small PCs from Asus, Acer and Dell, now dominate the list. This is an abrupt change from the past, where Apple had been a mainstay.

“While Mac desktops and 3G phone sales have been doing well, the notebook market could be impacted in the peak back-to-school season,” Rakesh wrote in Wednesday.

While Apple had two notebooks on the Amazon “top 10’ list for the period, Acer and Asus topped the chart.

Rakash said the reason for Apple’s absence is poor economic conditions.

“We believe this to be the effects of a more price-conscious consumer and global slowdown,” he wrote.

The ThinkEquity analyst calls a predicted 15 percent to 19 percent jump in Apple notebook sales for the fiscal fourth quarter “a high watermark.”

As a result, Rakesh lowered the target on Apple to $170 from $200 per share and fiscal fourth quarter estimates to $7.8 billion from $7.9 billion.

Apple’s first fiscal quarter of 2009 will likely be $10.8 billion, down from the $11.5 billion previous estimated, according to the analyst.

Earlier this week JMP Securities analyst Samuel Wilson seemed to echo Rakesh, predicting netbooks “could create a real challenge for high-priced Apple products.”

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  • Al

    I’ve heared this from a few people who wanted to buy a laptop that they didn’t like the small 13.5 inch screen of macbooks..I think macbooks should at least be 15 inches.not everyone can afford/need a Mac Book Pro and a 13.5 inches screen is just too small and uncomfortable for continious using and reading.Apple now has Macbook Air as the ultra portable range so there is no reason to keep Macbooks 13 inches instead they should make 15 inch MacBooks for a more all-around users who cant afford mac book pro.I wouldnt buy a 13.5 inches laptop as my only computer.and there are many people like me.so it’s natural that they are forced to buy MS based laptops with 15inch screens as their main computer.

  • joe

    Wow… You’ve just said the same thing 5 times in a row, nice!

  • Netbook Computer Guru

    Comments like the last one are not typical, or netbooks would not be outselling laptops by next year.
    While a 15″ laptop makes perfect sense, the price is not nearly as appealing, they aren’t as portable or as lightweight. Leave your laptops on the desk and travel with light with a cheap netbook!
    Let’s not forget the fact that most of the World can’t afford a laptop, especially a Mac.

  • Dann

    Sure the college kids might go for cheaper notebooks. But what you’re missing is that a)Now that Mac notebooks are more common, they can more easily be bought used. When my mom needed a new computer, I bought a used 15 inch powerbook for $200 less than a new macbook. B) More highschools are adopting notebook computers, and the it is now more likely that kids might already have their own Mac before heading out to college.

  • TK

    Apple are going to find it harder and harder as money becomes tighter. The machines are not competitively priced and so will fall behind regardless to how good they look.

  • Fowler

    I just bought a MSI Wind and installed OS X. Now I have a 10″ ‘mac’ at a total cost of USD 600 (had to replace the wifi card and install more ram). There are many more out there who have created macbook nanos (weighing only 1 kg) and they work great.

  • Paul

    While I and my family have all Apple computers, I bought an ASUS for traveling–2.2 pounds and all the software built in, including a camera, running LINUX. I don’t know anything about Linux, but it runs everything fast and accurately and easily while I’m on the road. The 8GB solid state HDD is more than adequate and photos are stored on a 16GB SD card. Of course, if Apple made one, I’d rather have that–but then, my iPhone weighs less than 2.2 pounds!

  • Dan

    I am a diehard Mac fanatic, but these subnotebooks are appealing. I immediately went to the Amazon page to look at their specs.

    I mainly need a laptop for doing word processing at a coffeehouse, and surfing the web. I would love something highly portable. And if I’m not wrong, the specs of most of these things are close to the Macbook Air. So why should I drop 1700 on that thing again?

  • kingtj

    I recently bought an ASUS eeePC to play around with. I already own a Macbook Pro, but it’s in many ways, the opposite type of device.

    I’m not so sure it’s as simple as “the economy driving sales of these low-priced sub-notebooks”? That could be a small factor, but I’m seeing it being more of a situation where people already OWN the computers they need. Being enthusiasts though, (or seeing some kind of “gap” they could fill with yet another portable of the right size, type and price), they throw $250-500 or so down for one of these new models.

    Little ultaportables like the MSI Wind or ASUS eeePC offer a “fun to tinker with” little platform to experiment with using Linux, plus an “entry level” way to try out solid-state flash drives, in place of hard drives. I don’t really know anyone I’d classify as a “typical user” (vs. having above-average conputer knowledge and interest) buying one of these as a primary new machine for themselves.

  • jame

    I use a notebook as my primary (*read only*) computer. Currently I have a 12″ ibook G4. It was fine up until the last year when the screen started to seem to cramped. Not sure what to do now that it is time to upgrade. I am very intrigued by the “netbooks.” If it is cheap enough, and small enough, I might have to upgrade to a new primary notebook and use the netbook as a day to day companion (if it will suffice to join web meetings!).

    I wouldn’t be surprised is a large portion with desktops, or desktop replacement notebooks as their primary computer pick up an inexpensive netbook for general use. Especially for people with highly mobile jobs: realtors, consultants, students, sales people, frequent business travelers…..

  • Mark

    I’m certain Apple will come up with a “tablet” like, touch macbook, that would have a small 7-inch touch screen, atom cpu, flash drive, wifi, bluetooth, on board HSDPA. It could even use the external DVD drive of the MB Air. Now that would be a “netbook” I’d be running to get!

  • imajoebob

    Piffle. More and more college students get their notebooks with their tuition. More and more colleges are reducing support costs with Macs (a magnitude of more than 3:1 in many cases). They’re not adding a 3rd tier of (un)supported notebooks.

  • koekielam

    It’s pretty ignorant to assume this to be the main reason.

  • Piot

    Sorry but this analyst seems to be devoid of logic!

    If everyone is rushing out to buy cheap Netbooks, why does he expect Apple’s notebooks to take such a big hit …… when 90% of notebooks sold ….. are PCs?

  • web

    Hard choice, I guess…

  • web

    Hard choice, I guess…

  • camel jockey

    anybody stupid enough to buy a windows machine deserves one.

  • turley Muller

    I think some of the appeal to netbooks is many come with XP. Or you can buy one with linux which can save 100-150 in price.

    How many years have there been low cost PC models much cheaper than the least expensive Mac? Forever, and people are still willing to pay more for a Mac because they get more. Mkt share has risen from ~1% to over 5%, may 6-8% according to which study you read. However, Apple has 70% share of PCs over $1000. Typically, Macs appeal to a higher income consumer, who are less impacted by the economy. I don’t think we’ll see people who always bought lexus or audi bmw buy a Kia or saturn because of economic weakness. Excluding those who couldn’t really afford in the first place, and if they worked at lehman or bear stearns

About the author

Ed SutherlandEd Sutherland is a veteran technology journalist who first heard of Apple when they grew on trees, Yahoo was run out of a Stanford dorm and Google was an unknown upstart. Since then, Sutherland has covered the whole technology landscape, concentrating on tracking the trends and figuring out the finances of large (and small) technology companies.

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