The market for lightweight 'netbook' devices will dry up completely, making the platform effectively obsolete by 2015, according to analysts.
Researchers with IHS said that the netbook market, which has seen a steady decline in the face of rampant tablet and ultrabook sales, will be extinct within three years as consumers lose interest in the small, cheap notebook systems.
"Netbooks shot to popularity immediately after launch because they were optimised for low cost, delivering what many consumers believed as acceptable computer performance,” said IHS senior principal analyst for compute platforms Craig Stice.
"However, netbooks began their descent to oblivion with the introduction in 2010 of Apple’s iPad."
The analyst firm said that 2010 represented a peak year for netbooks, when vendors shipped an estimated 32.14 million units. By 2012, however, that figure had fallen to just 14.3 million units and this year analysts believe that less than four million netbooks will be shipped.
IHS said that in 2014 it expects only 264,000 netbooks to be sold before vendors kill the platform off once and for all.
The disappearance of the netbook comes as the tablet continues to take its place among the dominant devices for personal computing next to notebooks, ultrabooks and desktop PCs.
The tablet market has grown at a rate that has surprised even industry analysts.
Last year, tablet shipments beat industry estimates and this year analysts believe that the market will log its best year ever, as tablets continue to takes sales away from not only netbooks, but also more powerful notebook and desktop PC models.
"The iPad and other tablets came in a new form factor that excited consumers while also offering improved computing capabilities, leading to a massive loss of interest in netbooks," noted Stice.
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