back to article Netbooks 'not just a consumer fad'

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 …


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  1. John Ridley 1
    Thumb Up

    Cheap is just a bonus

    My netbook is the laptop I've always wanted. I don't WANT a 15" laptop - I've tried several times, and laptops can never be a primary machine for me, it just doesn't work. I bought two laptops and they just sat around largely unused, because they were too big and heavy to carry around.

    Given that, I want something light and trivial to carry. I'd have bought one years ago, but they weren't available, at least, not for any reasonable amount of money.

  2. Number6

    Small and Light

    I've got one (mine, not my employer's) because it is small and light. I've even used it at work for data acquisition because it's convenient to carry arround compared to a more conventional laptop. It needs a new battery, but they're readily available and cheap enough that my wallet onlty swears at me rather than howling in pain for days.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Does all that is needed 99% of the time

    I got a Packard-Bell Dot S for my daughter (after I'd smashed the LCD on her hand-me-down laptop). She loves it and so do I. Not having a built-in CD drive is not a problem and although the screen is a bit on the puny side one gets used to it very quickly. Connectivity is superb and the keyboard is very usable. The battery really lasts for 6+ hours. The thing is small, light, looks neat and does most of what you need a computer for. I don't think that I would ever again consider buying a conventional laptop - who needs a screen the size of a small door anyhow ?

  4. Michael 10

    Netbook lovin'

    I've been using my eee901 pretty much non stop since I got it, to the point where full sized keyboards throw me off. I still have my 13.3' laptop, but I use it for things that don't run on the netbook, mostly steam games, HD videos, and stupid flash games without a quality button or assume 1000+ pixel height. I love it because it can get me through 8 hours of engineering classes a day, and good for running chat and websites while I'm playing games or watching movies.

    I still don't understand the concept of 17-19 inch notebooks. You can't carry them, upgrades and repairs are a pain, and they cost the same as far superior desktops. and with more back pains because you have to stare down at the screen.

    Basically my netbook is off when I sleep, other than that I'm using it for something, and the bigger computers are turned on a couple times a week.

  5. Stuart 22

    How to kill the golden goose ...

    Netbooks were small, cheap & robust (SSD) so you could use them where you could use/risk a notebook.

    Netbooks were cheaper & lot more functional than a smartphone if you could afford a little more space.

    Putting those two together gave the explosive market that made ASUS one of the oldest overnight successes. Except they have become bigger, more expensive and less robust. skewing them out of that previously unexplored but massive niche between smartphone and notebook.

    Blame Asus, blame Dell - even blame Microsoft - but I am prety mad at Ubuntu who failed completely to capitalise on the only Linux consumer breakthrough of the century and provide a consumer friendly upgrade path from the creaky Xandros to stop people gravitating back to Windows.


  6. MacRat

    Just a niche product

    Not a fad, but not taking over the market...

  7. Chika

    I suppose so

    I've been using my Acer Aspire One for some months now and, as a portable bit of kit, I can't fault it. It was cheap, it is light (it's one of the SSD models) and it's fairly robust (given that I use it trackside at a certain short circuit, that has to be a given!) It's the first machine I've used in this situation that comes close to my long departed Psion 5 which was very light and small enough to slip into a pocket so that I could pretty much go anywhere with it. You can imagine, then, that the OS was not a primary concern here, though the heavily cut down Linux distro it was shipped with was soon consigned to history as I chucked openSUSE 11.1 onto it.

    Not Windows? Well, no. Like I said, the OS wasn't a primary concern but I didn't want the extra cost. As long as it could do what was needed (mostly OpenOffice and the occasional Firefox session), Windows was just more money.

    Not Ubuntu? No. Ubuntu (or more likely Kubuntu in my case as I much prefer KDE to GNOME or xfce) is fine but I had openSUSE to hand, plus I can see traces of the old "Linux is NOT Red Hat" story being played out in Ubuntu. I'm not a great fan of the latest openSUSE either (11.2 was released last week, yet el Reg never mentioned it once! Tsk tsk!) but 11.1 isn't bad; or at least it is good enough to have been installed on two of my systems.

    In essence, I agree with Stuart 22 in that I believe that netbooks are slowly moving away from the market that made them, inasmuch as they are getting bigger, hungrier and more expensive. If things go on this way, I can see the netbook becoming indistinguishable from the laptops they used to undercut. And yes, you can blame the manufacturers for some of this, Microsoft for failing to address the inefficiency of their OS code sooner and the various Linux distros for failing to capitalise on a market that seems to have been made for them and, once and for all, kill off this image they have in the eyes of the farties of this world who won't touch them because they are afraid of the world beyond the reach of the Beast of Redmond.

    It may mean that my little Aspire One (Reina to her friends) will be my first and last netbook. We shall see. Now I just have to get a coat with bigger pockets...

  8. J 3

    @Stuart 22

    Ubuntu? I don't understand what you are talking about.

    You mean they should have had UNR all ready and done as soon as ASUS released the first Eee PCs running Linpus/Xandros/whatever locked down crap (which lots of people maligned, apparently with good reason), so people could upgrade? Or what, exactly, do you mean?

    As you probably know, people prefer to have an OS (Win XP) very inadequate for the form factor than to have anything else, be it regular desktop Linux (also inadequate), be it netbook remixes (good). Inertia, ignorance, sometimes even legitimate need, the regular stuff. So even if UNR had been available, and even shipped already installed and configured, from day one, most people would still go back running to mommy. Not to mention the less charitable aspects of the situation... like XP being nearly free just to kill Linux, and other arm-twisting shenanigans we all came to know and love over the decades. But that's a slightly different story.

    If ASUS and other pioneers of the now defunct netbook had worked with Canonical from the beginning, I guess I would see your point -- why aren't you also blaming, say, Fedora, by the way? But being control freaks, companies decided each one to create their own crappy, locked down adaptation of the Linux desktops available, so they wouldn't cannibalize their more profitable big machines. It backfired anyway, and that's why we saw the netbook die quite a while ago to be replaced by small, overpriced (for their capabilities) laptops.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Price No Consideration --- Really?

    Since when is price not a consideration for individuals?

  10. ceebee

    prices seem to be going up...

    netbooks are a curse to MS, Intel and to the OEMs.. the margin is tiny on them.

    with the new "Windows 7 Starter edition" which is crippled and not as light on resources a XP I am becoming more convinced that the original concept of the netbook is being killed by feature creep and attempts to stop them eating into the traditional laptop market with its higher margins.

    it is a pity that consumers want something the manufacturers would prefer not supply...

  11. Goat Jam

    Re: Since when is price not a consideration for individuals?

    Umm, since netbooks became priced roughly equivalent to laptops perhaps?

    When a netbook costs roughly the same as a laptop the ppl who buy them obviously choose them according to different criteria.

  12. Paul 129
    Dead Vulture

    Sad Really

    I picked up a 701 as soon as they became available. Trashed the pain in the arse Xandcruft and installed ubuntu and a 3G modem. Gave me a small portable networked PC that I didn't care if it was trashed. Most of the time I use command line apps, but what was quickly a pain in the neck was those situations where a larger virtual desktop would have been useful.

    Now if its broken well I guess it will be expensive to replace and will have one of those spinny things, that I use ddrescue on all the time....

    I guess I need to figure out how to put a virtual desktop on, and aught to update to karmic... Shame I wont be replacing it when it does, finally, give up the ghost.

    I guess the only money in this segment was the money M$ was willing to spend to ensure its DEAD AND BURIED!

  13. Keith Oldham

    Great for travellers

    I've got a Asus 901, it weighs little, fits in a rucsac or handluggage, solid state drive and eebuntu. I use it exclusively for travelling.

    Firefox - for browsing & on-line radio

    Thunderbird for e-mail - (I use a browser interface to my ISP for travelling )

    OpenOffice for reading attachments - little hard to write anything substantial with that keyboard

    VLC for videos - attach to larger monitor/TV if possible - take ~20hrs on SD cards

    Plenty of means to store/review/edit digital photos & video including raw format

    Players for mpg, wmv music

    SSH to reach the home server.

    I don't need more

    Windows ? - yes I look out of them at the mountains !

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