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Laptop, RIP?

When Apple showed off the iPad at the start of 2010, some thought it would be a flop, others a hit. But few predicted it would be a revolution. Within a year, though, the iPad's incredible sales had led some to speculate tablets would take sales away from the PC market, and particularly low-cost laptops and 'netbooks.' Instead of buying a second PC for travel and leisure, the reasoning went, folks would buy a tablet instead.

With the exception of the iPad, tablets haven't sold all that well, suggesting the revolution is going to proceed slowly. But the iPad alone, as it careens towards sales of 20 million units, looks to be having an effect on the sales of traditional PCs. One of the world's biggest PC makers, Acer, has cut its planned production of laptops for the third quarter of 2011 by 15%, from 6.4 million units down to 5.4 million.

Admittedly, this isn't just because of the iPad - Acer over-built earlier this year, analysts say, so they have stock to clear out before making new models. Nevertheless, the evidence seems clear that the golden age of the cheap netbook is coming to an end.

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