Notebook PCs outsell desktops, first time ever

Compared to the third-quarter of 2007, notebook PC sales spiked 40 percent to 38.6 million computers sold.

The third quarter of 2008 marked a first for the computer industry. According to iSuppli, more notebook PCs were sold globally than desktop PCs -- just for the quarter, however. Compared to the third-quarter of 2007, notebook PC sales spiked 40 percent to 38.6 million computers sold. The desktop PC market didn't fare quite as well. Compared to the same time frame last year, sales shrank 1.3 percent to 38.5 million units sold.

"Momentum has been building in the notebook market for some time, so it's not a complete surprise that shipments have surpassed those of desktops," said Matthew Wilkins, principal analyst for compute platforms at iSuppli. "However, this marks a major event in the PC market because it marks the start of the age of the notebook."

Even given the crazy economic woes as of late, worldwide PC shipments grew 15.4 percent over Q3 2007, settling at 79 million computers shipped. Of this number, Hewlett-Packard took top billing with its 18.8 market share. This translates to roughly 14.9 computers shipped, 3.9 million more than second-place rival Dell.

The biggest momentum came from Acer, who managed to sell three million more notebooks in the third quarter than second -- mostly from its new netbook line of products. The upswing represents a growth rate of 45 percent over second-quarter sales, and 79 percent compared to the third quarter of 2007. It's certainly no coincidence that the company's aggressively marketing its netbooks for the holiday season -- that could help the company see dramatic returns for the fourth quarter as well.

Since third-quarter PC returns came in a little higher than expected, iSuppli is modifying its 2008 forecasted growth rate from 12.5 to 13 percent. Similarly, the company expects PC sales to grow 4.3 percent in 2009.

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David Murphy

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