Netbooks Impacting the Mainstream Market


Joe Wilcox, editor of Microsoft Watch, has put together an in-depth article about the impact netbooks are having on the traditional, or mainstream, laptop/notebook market.

Netbooks are cannibalizing the low-end part of the market and driving some margins down (in the so-called “race to the bottom”). Just how much they are is up for debate – I think once we’ve seen another quarter or two, and factor in the MSI Wind U100 and Acer Aspire One launch during the first half of last year, then we’ll have a better idea on just what kind of impact they are having. eWeek considers this a huge problem for the overall PC market, and they believe the Microsoft must be a part of anything that addresses this. They mention the first quarter 2009 shipment information that was just released by both Gartner and IDC, and PC shipments declined by 6.5 percent over this time last year, while netbooks/sub-notebooks sales were strong. I think some of that is being alarmist – even if netbooks didn’t exist, shipments would probably still be down. Companies are cutting back, and within the last few years, laptops have reached a point as far as cost versus computing power, where the benefits of upgrading fairly often for consumers has dropped substantially. It’s one thing if you are going from an old Celeron or Pentium 4-based laptop from 5 years ago to a Intel Core 2 Duo-based system, it’s another if you are already on a Core Duo or Core 2 Duo-based system. I think we’ve reached the point where people aren’t going to be compelled to upgrade as often. On top of that, you have Microsoft Windows 7 which is going to perform as well or better on existing systems that were sold with Vista (and it performs just fine on Intel Atom-based systems).

I think that it is a problem for manufacturers, but at the same time, the damage is done. It’s very clear that these devices are something that consumers are very interested in, and in many cases, they are being bought by people who may not already own a laptop for one reason or another. I can also see the fear that the NVIDIA Ion platform inspires in some – a low-end netbook/ultraportable, perhaps powered by an Intel Atom (or a VIA Nano), capable of HD graphics (even just 720p). That would absolutely impact the traditional 15″ (and now 17″) budget market. Netbooks with their current, outdated graphics systems, are already impacting the market – the demand was there, and the products to fill it simply didn’t exist, at least at a pricepoint that was affordable by mainstream consumers. As we go forward, you’ll find more people willing to forego the 15″ laptops for something in the 13″ and below range.

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Netbooks Boosting Cloud Computing?

Jason Hiner at ZDNet, has written an article, “Are netbooks quietly driving us toward cloud computing?” He’s laid out a case that not only are netbooks/subnotebooks bucking the current trends of the PC industry (shrinking sales with some companies), but that they are poised to … Read more

Laptops (Netbooks) for Accountants

AccountingWEB has put together a top-10 list of recommend laptops that was compiled last month by AccountingWEB and UK Business Forum members. Given that it was put together mostly by accountants with a need for mobility, one would expect that most of the laptops on … Read more

Netbooks (Dell Inspiron Mini 9) and Photography

How does a netbook hold up when when compared to more conventional laptops used by professional photographers? Pretty well actually. Rob Galbraith wrote an article comparing three conventional laptops along with a netbook (Dell Inspiron Mini 9), looking at color accuracy, how useful are they … Read more

Netbooks and Screen Resolutions

Doug over at CrunchGear has written a commentary about the state of netbooks and display resolutions. It’s more of a plea to netbook makers, and I agree completely. We’ve reached a point where outside of a new platform (NVIDIA Ion) or new CPUs (dual-cores), there’s … Read more