Are Netbooks the New New Thing?

Consumers are thinking small these days and who can blame them? Concerns about the environment and gas prices have pumped up sales of compact cars. Traffic at real estate open houses is higher at smaller homes than at McMansions.  And sales of netbooks are soaring.

These super-​small laptops retail for between $250 and $800. Netbooks fill the market space between smart phones and traditional laptops and are often small enough to fit in a handbag yet come with a full keyboard. Key manufacturers, so far, include Dell, Acer and Hewlett-Packard.

NPD reported that by December 2008, netbooks accounted for 12% of all laptops sold. Industry experts worry that netbooks will cut into the sales of traditional laptops.

However, over ¾'s of consumers aren't sure how to define netbooks. While there's definitely interest in smaller computers, consumers say the following features are important when they evaluate what to purchase:

  • Memory 76%
  • Operating systems 69%
  • Processing speed 73%

Netbooks are perfect for Web access, e‑mail and entertainment but they might not be perfect for every laptop buyer. This confusion in the marketplace calls for marketing campaigns that educate consumers on the differences between laptops and netbooks.

[Sources: Irwin, Mary Jane. "Attack of the Netbooks," Forbes; Netbook Sales are on the Rise, NPD, January 2009] 
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.