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Notebook PC Shipments Exceed Desktop

During the third quarter of 2008, notebook computer shipments into the U.S. market surpassed 50 percent share, topping quarterly desktop PC shipments for the first time in the history of the industry.

The share of notebooks shipped in the U.S. in 3Q08 stood at a solid 55.2 percent, according to preliminary figures from IDC's market study.

The 55 percent ratio was made possible by a record volume of notebooks shipped in 3Q08 -- over 9.5 million units -- representing more than 18 percent growth both year over year and on a sequential basis, according to IDC's preliminary data.

These figures were reached amid a relatively active back-to-school season and the burgeoning financial crisis, which captured headlines but did not immediately affect the PC market's overall performance.

Almost all the leading vendors with desktop and notebook offerings shipped greater notebook volumes in the quarter. Some vendors such as Toshiba have long focused exclusively on notebooks. Others, including Sony, Acer, and Lenovo exceeded the 65 percent notebook ratio within their own PC client shipment base.

Attracted by the opportunities of an expanded multi-PC-per user base, new notebook-focused vendors are making their way into the U.S. market, including Asus and Samsung.

The potentially expanding mid-tier vendor base is likely to further increase competition among well-known brands, with the potential for lower prices to stimulate demand and keep unit growth in positive territory.

"The consumer market continued to be the top driving factor in the notebook offensive but the commercial sector played a critical role too" says David Daoud, research manager, U.S. Quarterly PC Tracker and Personal Systems at IDC.

The consumer market has long favored notebooks, with mobile ratios exceeding the 70 percent mark. So it is clear that the small and mid-markets, as well as the enterprise and public sector buyers, are seeing good value in mobility.

Looking ahead, while mobility will remain a leading growth factor, the economy will be a major wild card in the short to mid term. Prolonged economic tension could have an adverse effect on the PC space leading to reduced growth, but the good news is that virtually every buyer considers PCs as must-have products.

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