Notebooks Overthrow the Desktop

American computer users are moving beyond their desks, as findings from The NPD Group indicate that May 2003 was the first time the dollar sales of notebook computers surpassed the dollar sales of desktop computers in U.S.

Retail computer product sales posted their best year-over-year sales results in nearly four years, jumping 13.6 percent over May 2002 to nearly $500 million. Laptops accounted for 54 percent of the share – more that double January 2000’s sales volume of 25 percent. Unit volumes also set a record in May 2003 as notebooks accounted for more than 40 percent of sales.

“May results were driven by consumers’ desire for mobility, combined with aggressive pricing and robust configurations,” said Stephen Baker, director of industry analysis for The NPD Group. “Selling prices fell below $1300 for the first time ever, more than $250 below May 2002 even while 80 percent of notebooks sported 15 inch screens and 86 percent provided customers with a CD burner.”

Desktops accounted for 53 percent of Dell computer’s net revenue for the second quarter of 2003 – down from 55 percent in the first quarter of 2003 – while notebooks gained a point to 27 percent during the same period. Enterprise systems also gained one percentage point to 20 percent of total net revenue.

Of the 711,000 Apple Macintosh units that were shipped during the second quarter of 2003, more laptops were sold than ever before. “Our year of the notebook is off to a great start, led by the incredible demand for our new aluminum 12-inch and 17-inch PowerBook G4s,” said Steve Jobs, Apples CEO. “This quarter over 40 percent of the Macs we shipped were notebooks – our highest percentage ever and well ahead of the industry average.”

May marked another milestone when LCD [define] monitors generated more unit sales volume than standard tube-based CRTs [define].

LCD sales volumes have been steadily rising since flat panel screens became affordable for consumers approximately two years ago. Flat panel monitors accounted for 52 percent of unit sales in May and more than 70 percent of sales dollars. These numbers are in stark contrast to May 2002 when unit volumes was only 22 percent of total monitor sales and revenue for LCDs was only 40 percent of the total.

Appearance is a significant factor in the appeal of the LCD units, according to Baker, and consumers are willing to spend more money for the sleek, slim-profiled units – the average LCD price of $467 is more than $250 above the average selling price of a CRT.

“It is fitting that these milestones should occur together as they are both important components in the increased movement of the PC out of the home office and into everyday use,” commented Baker. “Key to the increased sales, for these and other rapidly evolving product categories, are a desire for computing products that offer portability, appealing form factors and attractive design. These two product segments are at the cutting edge of this change with other products like photo printing, wireless networking, entertainment PCs and multi-function printing devices rapidly redrawing their categories and orienting them towards this new vision of home computing.”

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