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Netbooks 'not just a consumer fad'

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Canalys Mobility Forum Netbooks are just a fad. Punters are only buying them because they're cheap. According to market watcher Canalys, neither of these statements are true.

The company basis its claim - made in London this week at its Mobility Forum by VP Mike Welch - on around 20,000 interviews with buyers located across Europe.

Out of all those responses, Canalys found that 59 per cent of netbook buyers purchased one primarily because of its small size: 42 per cent said they bought a compact, portable machine to use outside the home; 17 per cent said the purchase was for use inside the home.

Only 15 per cent they bought a netbook becuase of its low price. Of all netbook buyers, two out of three use it in addition to another PC, Welch said.

Netbooks are three times more likely than a notebook to be used outside the home, said Welch. It's a sure sign that consumers want greater mobility, he added, and the netbook form-factor gives them that.

And it's not just consumers expressing an interest in netbook mobility. According to Canalys' end-user interviews, 52 per cent of technology specifiers in business are "interested" in deploying netbooks, or have done so already.

Like consumers, Welch said, businesspeople see the benefits of a compact computer that can be easily carried around and connected to the internet with mobile broadband, be it built in or added with a USB modem.

During October, 37 per cent of netbooks sold by carriers came with 3G embedded 3G - the remaining 63 per cent shipped with a dongle.

And business usage mandates a Microsoft operating system, yes? No, said Welch - half of those business folk who have or are keen to implement netbooks said they will use them with a browser-based UI to access online applications, or with a non-Microsoft OS.

Ironically, almost all netbooks now ship with Windows - 92 per cent of them with XP, during October 2009 - separate Canalys research found. Only two per cent of netbooks shipped through carriers mobile network operators came with Linux - and these were described by Canalys analyst Alistair Edwards as older models being sold off cheap to clear the decks.

Still, it's clear some business have understood that if they're not running specific Windows-based apps, then they can save money by avoiding the so-called Microsoft tax. The rollout of cloud-based apps can only encourage this trend. ®

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