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SMBs unimpressed by netbooks

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Netbooks might be gaining popularity among consumers and college kids, but small and medium businesses (SMBs) are proving immune to their charms.

More than two thirds of SMBs plan on buying new PCs and laptops in the next six months, but netbooks are a low priority, according to a Spiceworks survey.

Just 13 per-cent of SMBs plan on buying a netbook compared to 56 per cent buying a new laptop and 55 per cent a new laptop. Even servers, which like PCs have seen sales implode during the recession, look like picking up with 45 per cent planning a server purchase.

Spiceworks did not say why so few SMBs plan on buying netbooks. One challenge could be the fact that the form factor is smaller than most business laptops - and certainly desktops - making them seem unsuited to the kinds of workers that like to load up on applications and who need lots of windows and keyboard space.

Also, netbooks are currently viewed as a second purchase after your regular laptop, making them (possibly) look like a luxury item to IT buyers.

This may change over time. Recent technologies that started in the consumer space and forced their way into business include email, web browsers, and mobile phones in general and the iPhone in particular.

Netbooks are currently being adopted by some niches of users inside organizations.

It could also be that the consumer label increasingly associated with netbooks puts them off the radar for SMB buyers.

In an indication of SMB buying habits, Spiceworks noted the average new hardware order for an SMB is expected to include 13 desktops, 10 laptops, and two servers.

Hardware overall will remain the biggest IT budget item for companies. SMBs expect to spend 37 per cent of their annual budgets upgrading and buying new equipment. Security and anti-spam top the list of spending on software - 32 per cent plan such purchases - with 35 per cent planning to buy them as cloud-based offerings instead of getting them in a box or on a DVD.

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