Netbooks made up 19.5% of laptop shipments last quarter

Netbooks have accounted for nearly a fifth of all laptops shipped for two consecutive quarters now. So says DisplaySearch, whose preliminary numbers show netbooks represented 19.9% of shipments in the fourth quarter of last year and 19.5% last quarter. (A year ago, netbooks had a paltry 2.9% market penetration rate.)

DisplaySearch goes on to say that netbooks have been most popular in Europe, the Middle-East, and African regions (EMEA), which accounted for a whopping 45% of netbook shipments. Fewer than 26% of the systems went to North America. The research firm attributes part of the EMEA success to European telecom companies, many of which sell subsidized netbooks with plans in much the same way as cell phones.

Which netbook makers have benefited most from this continued popularity? Mostly Acer. The Taiwanese PC maker reportedly saw its slice of the netbook pie grow from 27.5% in Q4 to 30.5% last quarter, while Asus, its closest competitor, suffered a decline from 21.3% to 15.3% as its shipments nearly halved. Mind you, laptop and netbook shipments both went down by around 25% over the same two quarters, so even Acer ended up selling fewer machines.

For the global laptop market as a whole, DisplaySearch says HP remained the dominant player with a 24.1% market share and 7.3 million shipments in Q1. Acer's netbook success actually propelled it to second place, barely edging out Dell with an 18.8% market share.

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