LONDON, May 25 (Reuters) - Shipments of notebook computers leapt 43 percent in the first quarter, their highest year-on-year growth in eight years, driven by consumer demand for netbooks, IT research firm Gartner said on Tuesday.
Average selling prices dropped 16 percent to $732 as many consumers chose inexpensive netbooks — mini-notebooks with pared-down features — over more sophisticated laptop computers. Total notebook sales rose 21 percent to $36.1 billion.
Taiwan’s Asustek (2357.TW), a pioneer of the netbook market with its Eee PC, more than doubled its shipments to win 8.8 percent of the market, in fifth place behind Dell DELL.O at number three and Toshiba (6502.T) at number four.
“Mini-notebook PCs were a big part of the bump in mobile PC shipments in the first quarter of 2010, with shipments growing 71 percent,” principal Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa said.
“However, mini-notebooks’ share slowed in some regions as consumers begin to understand the limitations of mini-notebooks, especially in the face of aggressive price cuts of regular notebooks,” she added in a statement.
Gartner said it had seen some increase in demand from the professional market, which it expected to accelerate towards the end of the year and into 2011 as companies started to resume delayed purchases to replace ageing equipment. (Reporting by Georgina Prodhan, editing by Will Waterman)