Data doesn’t prove iPad affecting netbook sales

Stories like this are getting a lot of press with the assertion that netbooks are somehow being killed by the iPad. Except for one thing, the data doesn’t say that at all. In fact, if you look at the chart, you can see netbook declines started in October, well before there was even an iPad announcement. Don’t get me wrong, I think the netbook is essentially a dead idea. In fact, I wrote about it some time ago. It’s just that not everything happens because of Apple. The iPad may well be having an impact on netbook purchases now, I know I’d buy and iPad sooner than a netbook but there’s absolutely no causation shown here.

This is a reverse case of “post hoc, ergo propter hoc“. That’s Latin for “after it, therefore because of it”. It means that if one thing follows another, one thing also causes another. (it’s also the title of one of my favorite episodes of the West Wing of all time. but I digress)

The problem is that type of causal relationship is almost never true. It’s a common mistake that’s often made and in this case it’s clear to me that one thing has not proven to have led to another. It’s quite possible iPad is affecting netbooks sales. it’s also possible consumers don’t want tiny, underpowered laptops running XP or low end versions of Windows 7. The netbook success was the result of an imperfect storm, that storm has passed so not surprised to see the decline.

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4 Responses to Data doesn’t prove iPad affecting netbook sales

  1. Joe says:

    True, but the figures don’t even show a decline. They show a slow in growth.
    Paul Thurrott summed it all up nicely:

    http://community.winsupersite.com/blogs/paul/archive/2010/05/06/sorry-but-the-ipad-is-not-killing-netbook-sales.aspx

    If this is the quality of Morgan Stanley analysis, then their clients should be concerned.

  2. Hank says:

    So, I’m thinking all this pressure to keep up with Apple’s seamless ability to integrate hardware and software/OS. HP/Palm is born. Rim is going alone. Google is all software/Android. Microsoft makes a crappy light OS and no one likes their “light” product to date. Lots raving about Win7 on netbooks, but it’s really isn’t impressive at all. Dell is Win & Android, and I’ll bet they go further toward Android as the Win stuff is too bulky. Now how about Microsoft getting into the Hardware game? I know it might sound like an overreaction, with all their different customers, but they might be able to actually make something that’s optimized and works if they bought……Dell? Crazy?

  3. David Wogan says:

    I was thinking of the West Wing also. Good times!

  4. I have been holding off on getting a touch screen mobile device hoping for it to do loads. The iPad, at viewing , is that “more” for me. I will likely grab one at the quickest chance

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