Shipments for netbook computers once numbered in the tens of millions of units annually, but by 2015 they are expected to hit zero. Unsurprisingly, tablets are largely responsible for their demise.

The latest predictions come from iSuppli, which points to recent figures for the quick decline. After being first introduced in 2007, netbook shipments climbed steadily for three years before peaking at 32.14 million units in 2010.

That figure dropped to 14.13 million units shipped in 2012. This year, the number is expected to plummet by 72 percent to 3.97 million units. From there, it will keep dropping, decreasing 93.35 percent (assuming the predicted 2013 figure holds) to a mere 264,000 units in 2014. Finally, shipments will hit complete rock bottom in 2015, iSuppli predicts.

While we doubt exactly zero netbooks will ship in 2015, the trend is unmistakable. Netbooks are going away, and fast.

Netbooks became popular so rapidly because they were optimized for low cost and still had relatively acceptable computer performance. Eventually they became more powerful, and even began taking market share away from their more powerful cousins, despite their size.

The rest, as they say, is history. iSuppli sums it up:

  • In 2010, Apple introduced the iPad, quickly followed by all sorts of tablets.
  • In 2011, netbook shipments dived 34 percent on what would become a trend of irreversible decline.
  • The iPad and other tablets came in a new form factor that “excited consumers” with “improved computing capabilities” and leading to a “massive loss” of interest in netbooks. At the other end of the spectrum, high-end laptops were also making their appearance, offering premium performance.

In short, netbooks were left with little to offer. They no longer had price and size on their side as tablets began to appear while notebooks were only getting better and better.

Today’s netbook news comes after IDC recently declared PC shipments had posted the steepest decline ever in Q1 2013. Nevertheless, iSuppli expects 2013 will see a rebound for the PC market after an overall poor 2012.

Top Image Credit: Andreas Krappweis