Retail PC Notebook Sales Fall, Analyst Blames iPad

PC Notebook sales in the retail space have dipped for the first time, and Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty believes the iPad is responsible for most of that dip. The analyst looked at data from NPD and found that growth began decelerating in March of 2010, shortly after the iPad was announced. In August, slowing growth actually turned to a 4% decline in retail notebook PC sales.

In a research note covered by Fortune, Ms. Huberty said that preliminary data for the first week in September showed another 4% year-over year decline.

Tablet “cannibalization” of the retail notebook market was to blame, and Ms. Huberty cited Apple’s iPad as the chief culprit. The analyst offered the chart below to demonstrate the decline since the iPad’s release.

This seems a propitious moment to point out that in February of 2009, Calyon analyst Shebly Seyrafi issued a downgrade for Apple based in part over concern about Apple’s lack of a netbook strategy that wouldn’t cannibalize MacBook sales. It turns out that Apple’s eventual answer to the netbook market, the iPad, has left MacBook sales intact, while PC notebooks as a whole have taken a dive.

Shares in AAPL traded lower Friday, closing at US$275.37, down $1.20 (-0.43%), on strong volume of 22.4 million shares trading hands.

Morgan Stanley Chart