How the iPad gobbles up netbook sales


Philip Elmer-DeWitt is a senior editor at Fortune.

Also getting cannibalized: iPod touches, eReaders, desktop PCs and handheld videogames

There's an interesting chart in a report to clients issued early Thursday morning by Morgan Stanley's Katy Huberty.

The subject of her report is last week's acquisition of Palm (palm) by Hewlett Packard (hpq). In Huberty's bull-case scenario, HP builds a tablet computer around Palm's WebOS that not only competes with Apple's (aapl) iPad, but captures 15% of the tablet market.

What caught my eye, however, was what her proprietary research shows about the impact of the iPad and other tablets on the broader gadget market, starting with netbooks. As her chart (above) shows, sales growth of these low-cost, low-powered computing devices peaked last summer at an astonishing 641% year-over-year growth rate. It fell off a cliff in January and shrank again in April -- collateral damage, according to Huberty, from the January introduction and April launch of the iPad.

Her timing seems a little off. Steve Jobs didn't unveil the iPad until Jan. 27, yet the NPD data she cites is dated Jan. 10.

But in support of her theory, she offers a Morgan Stanley/Alphawise survey conducted in March that found that 44% of U.S. consumers who were planning to buy an iPad said that they were buying it instead of a netbook or notebook computer.

What other devices did that survey suggest might get cannibalized by the iPad? According to Exhibit 2, below, the iPod touch is next in line.

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