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Netbook Winners and Losers

January 30, 2009

In November 2008 ABI Research carried out a survey of more than 1000 adult consumers in the United States say they would use a netbook as their primary computer, while a massive 79 percent view netbooks as a secondary device to be used in addition to a laptop or desktop computer.

Most PC manufacturers are likely ambivalent about the results, as they are about netbooks. For most, making a profit on a netbook will prove an extreme challenge. On the other hand, netbooks will in many cases increase the number of PCs used--and therefore sold--by many users. In some cases netbooks will replace a more-traditional PC.
Mobile providers likely will cheer the trend, as the new devices will spur demand for mobile broadband connections. Also, at current price points, netbooks can be subsidized over two-year contracts just as smart phones are.
Netbooks are smaller, so they’re not as easy to use or as powerful as a PC or a laptop, and generally don’t include built-in CD or DVD drives, ABI notes. However, the flip side is that the smaller size and weight of netbooks makes them much easier to tote around the home or on-the-go. Also, USB ports are very handy for attaching outboard peripherals, providing access to disk-based content or software, even when not carried around as part of the netbook.
“Even as a device that is secondary to the PC, this has to cut into the laptop market somewhat," says Philip Solis, ABU Research principal analyst. "When considering another laptop as an additional device mostly for browsing the web and using other Internet-based communications applications, consumers will find netbooks to be an appropriate alternative.”
Mobile service providers and end users are the likely winners here.

Gary Kim is a contributing editor for unified communications. To read more of Gary’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jessica Kostek

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