Wall Street Analyst Believes iPad Tanked Netbook Sales Before the iPad Was Announced (Tachyons?)

Interesting commentary in Fortune about a Morgan Stanley analyst’s interpretation of netbook growth.

How the iPad gobbles up netbook sales

The accompanying chart with data from NPD and Morgan Stanley Research shows amazing year-over-year growth during the summer of 2009 with numbers between 500 and 640% for July through September (school buying time for many parents and college bound students). It fall dramatically to still very respectable YoY growth percentages between 180 and 337% for the rest of 2009.

Fortune’s Philip Elmer-Dewitt correctly questions Morgan Stanley’s Katy Huberty’s conclusions about netbook sales being clobbered by the iPad given the NPD data used was released on January 10, weeks before the iPad was announced.

There is a much simpler interpretation that doesn’t require even mentioning the iPad: When you see Year-over-Year unit growth in the hundreds of percent for 6 months, there might be a bit of market saturation happening at the same time. In other words, the majority of people likely to buy a netbook did during that period.

We also saw conventional sized notebook prices drop with quite good tech specs last year. So, people may be shifting back to larger more capable gear for near netbook prices.

We’ll have a better idea of buyer preferences for notebooks, netbooks, and slate devices by the end of the calendar year. But, not one month after the iPad was introduced.