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Netbooks only a main PC for 11% of users

updated 12:35 pm EST, Fri January 30, 2009

ABI on Netbook as Main PC

Only about a tenth of computer buyers would consider using netbooks as their main systems, ABI Research says in a new study. About 11 percent of Americans asked about the devices say they would use one of the small but low-cost portables as their only or primary computer while majority at 79 percent only consider a netbook a companion device to either a main desktop or regular notebook. The more difficult controls and lower performance are seen as sufficiently high-enough barriers that they preclude many from considering netbooks as more than occasional PCs.

"While their low price does cause some consumers to view netbooks as a replacement for a laptop given the current economic conditions, the majority view a netbook as being a secondary device," ABI principal analyst Philip Solis says.

The findings aren't conclusive but suggest netbooks are less likely to control the PC market than expected. IDC statistics put netbooks at 7 percent of all PC sales for 2008 but were unable to conclude whether the systems were taking the place of normal notebooks or just supplementing existing models.

While early netbook pioneers like Acer and ASUS have championed netbooks, more traditional PC builders like Apple and Dell have said that most current designs are too uncomfortable or otherwise unsatisfactory; during Apple's latest financial conference call, COO Tim Cook described netbooks as having "cramped" input and being "much less powerful" than users would actually be willing to use. The Mac creator has said it might only enter netbooks if the field becomes more established.

by MacNN Staff



  1. vasic

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Quite surprising actually

    That one in nine people has chosen a netbook as their primary computer, especially since it's been only about a year since they even started coming out, is actually rather surprising and quite high.

    On the other hand, one has to keep in mind that these netbooks oftentimes outperform (by a small margin, admitedly) the 4-5 year old laptops or PCs they're replacing, so for the end user, it is still an improvement.

    Ultimately, though, it probably won't be the performance, but the ergonomics that will drive netbook owners back to the full-size (and speed) notebooks.

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969


    That many?

    I can't believe that many people use them as their primary. I'd want to double-check those numbers.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    ...since these computers aren't really meant to be a replacement, more of a supplement to your computer arsenal.

  1. Flying Meat

    Joined: Dec 1969


    re: Quite surprising

    Erm,.. I'm pretty sure that the question posed was something along the lines of, "Would you consider using a netbook as your primary machine?"

    Not, "Are you using a netbook as your primary machine?"

    So the information presented is how many poll respondents "would" use them as their primary machine.

    No information is presented regarding the number of people that actually "are" using of have "chosen" them as their primary machine.

    I could be wrong. It happened once before. :P ;)

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    While early netbook pioneers like Acer and ASUS have championed netbooks, more traditional PC builders like Apple and Dell have said that most current designs are too uncomfortable or otherwise unsatisfactory;

    What????? You mean those that make these products champion them? And those that don't look down on them????

    Next thing we'll find out is that the heads of Microsoft champion Windows as the OS of choice for personal computers, and the heads of Apple think Windows is too clunky and OS X is a much better choice.

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969


    KB, Mouse, Monitor

    I suppose anyone using these as their main PC would have one or all of these for home use: external KB, mouse, monitor. The small form factor merely allows easy travel. I'm sure that these are easier to type on than an iPhone.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    As for lacking in speed, it can be argued that for at least half of computer users (esp. consumers, but even many in business), the speed of the laptop would more than suffice for measly letter writing, email, internet, basic office stuff.

    Not everyone is doing graphics work, number crunching, and other various duties.

  1. dimmer

    Joined: Dec 1969



    is the key word here. What would affect the result of those considerations? A decent screen? Usable keyboard? Passable gaming performance? Battery life? Performance?

    I agree with testudo, but I'd move the focus to business: most workers need eMail, web, WP and spreadsheet, nothing more. The guts of a netbook work fine for that, although an external monitor, keyboard and mouse would be desired.

    Consumers fall (pretty much) into two categories: gamers and non-gamers. Clearly a netbook won't work for the former, but may well for the latter.

    Having used my 17 inch MacBook Pro for a couple of months, I was impressed by how small the MacBook and MacBook Air appeared to be physically and how impossible it would be to work on such a small (in terms of resolution) screen.

  1. thebiggfrogg

    Joined: Dec 1969




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