Notebooks Rule the Stores

Computing is getting more portable -- at least in the U.S. -- with more laptops being bought at retail than desktop PCs last year, according to research firm Current Analysis .

Notebooks accounted for 50.9 percent of personal computers bought at retail in 2005, while desktops accounted for 49.1 percent, according to the research firm. In 2004, notebooks accounted for only 43 percent of U.S. retail sales, while desktops accounted for 57 percent.

This retail milestone is also a signpost on the road to increasing mobility in the enterprise, according to Samir Bhavnani, principal analyst for mobile electronics and computing at Current Analysis. "It is huge, because often times what we find is that where consumers go, businesses follow," says Bhavnani.

This has held true in the wireless LAN world, for example: As more consumers bought 802.11 access points, more WiFi found its way into the workplace.

Bhavnani says that the enterprise market will likely follow retail trends, with notebook sales outstripping desktops either at the end of 2007 or into 2008.

He expects that small and medium-sized businesses will be at the leading edge of a wholesale move to notebooks. "It is less prevalent in large enterprises; they're more about deployments and who gets laptops and desktops."

Naturally, the increased deployment of notebooks will bring a new set of problems for network managers -- particularly as every laptop sold tends to have WiFi onboard these days. As we have already seen, this means more danger of the mobile worker bringing new viruses and worms onto the corporate network, via hotspots and other public networks that they might never have known they were accessing.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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