Feeds

Punters 'confuse' netbooks with notebooks

Bad news for vendors, not users

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

Guess what: ordinary folk don't know the difference between netbooks and notebooks, at least as far as the functionality of the two types of laptop go.

That's the conclusion of a survey carried out in the US by local market watcher NPD. Almost 600 people took part in the online survey, though how many of them own netbooks, NPD didn't reveal. However, some 60 per cent of the netbook-owning adults that it questioned said they believed that, pre-purchase, they thought the netbook they we about to buy would do as much as a notebook would.

We're not in the least bit surprised. The clear shift away from netbooks with small solid-state drives and Linux toward models with hard drives and Windows XP, shows a preference - either on the part of vendors or punters - for netbooks with more notebook-like specs. Ditto the appearance of more machines with screens bigger than 10in.

The question is - and it's one NPD doesn't appear to have posed - is whether that acquisition of ever more notebook-like features is what convinced consumers that netbooks are just small notebooks, or whether vendors have simply moved in response to consumer demand: buyers think netbooks are notebooks, have generally purchased machines with more notebook-like specifications, and vendors have adjusted their product mix accordingly.

Is that a problem for anyone other than Linux advocates? It's hard to say. NPD stated last night that "only" 58 per cent of folk who bought a netbook rather than a notebook were "very satisfied" with their little laptop.

The conclusion implied by NPD is that the remaining 42 per cent of netbooks buyers regretted their purchase. But it's not so clear cut. It's the way of market research that people responding to the survey will have been offered five or more choices, with 'very satisfied' at the top, descending to something like 'very disappointed' at the bottom.

So that 42 per cent of respondents run the gamut from 'why did I buy this effing thing' to 'yeah, it's OK', taking in the ever-present 'don't know' in between. That means far fewer folk regretted their netbook purchase than NPD's numbers would seem to show.

And, as the researcher admitted, 70 per cent of netbook owners said they planned on buying a netbook from the outset, which certainly doesn't imply a legion of consumers ill-advisedly switching from a new notebook to a new netbook at the last minute.

Around 65 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds who'd bought a netbook said they were disappointed with its performance, NPD said, but that suggests to us that these were folk out to buy a laptop on the cheap - that's essentially the university student age band, after all.

They're also users more likely to be after machines capable of churning through hefty multimedia files and so been disappointed by the Atom processor's number crunching ability and the lack of an optical drive. Caveat emptor. Certainly all the netbooks Register Hardware has tested have shown themselves to have entirely sufficient processing power for email, browsing, media playback, office apps and even low-grade Photoshop work.

Which is, of course, why vendors do need to watch out.

As NPD VP Stephen Baker warned: "There is a serious risk of cannibalisation in the notebook market that could cause a real threat to netbooks’ success. Retailers and manufacturers can’t put too much emphasis on PC-like capabilities and general features that could convince consumers that a netbook is a replacement for a notebook."

Yes, but the threat is not to "netbooks' success" but to suppliers. Like it or not, netbooks are effectively little notebooks, especially given the aforementioned shift to Windows XP and notebook-size 160GB HDDs.

Only AMD has felt able to admit these two types of machine are both sides of one coin.

We've seen Intel and retailers recently telling punters that netbooks are for media consumption, notebooks are for media creation. There's a sense in these communications of the door being closed after the horse has left the building.

And if that's because vendors have been pushing notebook-spec netbooks rather than reacting to consumer demand, they have only themselves to blame.

If it was consumers who demanded notebook-like netbooks, then that shows there's no confusion at all, and punters are (generally) buying the smaller machines because they like the size and the price, and find they have sufficient performance for their needs.

We're sure college kids and some other might have bought netbooks for inappropriate uses, but many folk, we'd say, are finding them to be exactly what they need. And NPD's numbers don't give us any reason to think otherwise. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
Reg man looks through a Glass, darkly: Google's toy ploy or killer tech specs?
Tip: Put the shades on and you'll look less of a spanner
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Now that's FIRE WIRE: HP recalls 6 MILLION burn-risk laptop cables
Right in the middle of Burning Mains Man week
Apple's iWatch? They cannae do it ... they don't have the POWER
Analyst predicts fanbois will have to wait until next year
HUGE iPAD? Maybe. HUGE ADVERTS? That's for SURE
Noo! Hand not big enough! Don't look at meee!
Samsung Gear S: Quick, LAUNCH IT – before Apple straps on iWatch
Full specs for wrist-mounted device here ... but who'll buy it?
AMD unveils 'single purpose' graphics card for PC gamers and NO ONE else
Chip maker claims the Radeon R9 285 is 'best in its class'
One step closer to ROBOT BUTLERS: Dyson flashes vid of VACUUM SUCKER bot
Latest cleaner available for world+dog in September
prev story

Whitepapers

Best practices for enterprise data
Discussing how technology providers have innovated in order to solve new challenges, creating a new framework for enterprise data.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?