60 million netbooks are expected to ship worldwide in 2010, with double that number reaching global markets in 2013.
This is the result of the rapid netbook market growth observed since the introduction of the new computer category in 2008, a trend that will only start to abate in 2014-2015 according to a new set of forecasts from ABI Research.
As the netbook market matures, market shares are beginning to shift among vendors. Half a dozen vendors commanded 78 percent of the market in 2009.
Acer and ASUS (which pioneered the whole netbook concept with its Eee PC) held almost equal one-third shares of the market in 2008, but ASUS didn't maintain that lead and lost half of its market share in 2009.
"Instead of having a preeminent two," notes principal analyst Jeff Orr, "it looks as if only Acer will continue to maintain its commanding lead; but at the same time there are more vendors competing head-to-head.
With the market starting to settle into a stable shape, Orr expects that we'll soon start to see "consolidation through attrition," with some of the smaller players exiting the market.
"But with a 2009 market share falling to just 0.1 percent, Gigabyte might be advised to rethink that strategy. Other suppliers, such as the OLPC (One Laptop per Child) initiative, have been hit hard by the global recession."
Consumer interest in netbooks shows no sign of waning, and the attraction remains the same: value rather than raw performance.
Netbooks are not replacing laptops or PCs; they are being bought as complementary devices. Education remains a strong market driver, and the next several years will see very respectable continuing growth.