Morgan Stanley Analyst Katy Huberty: ‘Tablet Cannibalization’ Slowing Growth of Laptop PC Sales

Philip Elmer-DeWitt on a report by Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty, suggesting that “tablet cannibalization” has slowed the growth of PC laptop sales:

  • NPD data showing that after six months of decelerating growth, U.S. retail notebook unit growth fell 4% year over year in August, marking the first time those numbers had actually gone negative.
  • Similar data for the first week of September showing that units fell 4% year over year again.
  • BestBuy CEO Brian Dunn’s widely repeated remarks in the Wall Street Journal that “internal estimates showed that the iPad had cannibalized sales from laptop PCs by as much as 50 percent.”

Two observations:

  • There’s been no sign that Mac laptop sales have slowed. We only have one quarter of results for the iPad era, but Mac sales were up 33 percent year-over-year. If it’s true that “laptop” sales overall are slowing, it’s coming entirely at the expense of Apple’s competitors. My theory is that it’s simply about price points. Apple’s MacBooks start at $999. The iPad isn’t competing against MacBooks — it’s competing against $500-900 computers.

  • Calling this “tablet cannibalization” is bullshit. There’s only one tablet on the market so far.

Friday, 17 September 2010