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NPD: Netbook buyers confused, unhappy

updated 12:30 pm EDT, Tue June 23, 2009

Netbook Buyers Unhappy

Despite the prominent sales spot for netbooks, many of those buying the mini PCs are not only unsatisfied with the experience but often have unrealistic expectations, an NPD study shows. About 60 percent of those who bought netbooks mistakenly assumed the systems would have the same features and performance as notebooks. Among college-age buyers, 65 percent expected the systems to run faster than they did, and only 27 percent were impressed by the relative speed.

The gap between perception and reality has led to a significant portion of buyers disliking their systems. Where 70 percent of those who had specifically set out to get a netbook were happy, that number fell to 58 percent for those who had opted to buy a netbook due to price or some other driving factor.

Researchers suspect that some of the dissatisfaction has its root in bad marketing and unrealistic assumptions about usage habits. Although 60 percent of the studied group had bought a netbook with the very small size as the prime concern, a similar amount admitted that their systems never actually leave the home.

The blame is chiefly laid on poor marketing that oversells the abilities of the systems as computer substitutes, which leads to disappointment when they discover that the systems are really companion PCs that don't have the power to serve as full notebook replacements. Most of these run Intel's Atom processor, which is fast enough to drive Windows XP but often lacks graphics performance for even modest 3D or HD video and often can't run creative editing apps or other strenuous tasks.

While most major PC builders have at least one netbook in their lineups, a handful have actively resisted the category partly due to the complaints raised in the study. Apple has criticized current netbooks for being too small and low quality and has separately said that many of these systems are too slow. Nonetheless, rumors have surfaced of Apple ordering 10-inch touchscreens that would be particularly suited to a netbook-sized device, whether a conventional computer with touch or else a pure tablet.

By Electronista Staff
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  1. G4_Kessel

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2003



    THIS is exactly why Apple is avoiding this space right now. Apple doesn't like unsatisfied customers, so if they do a netbook it's gonna be powerful with other cool features to stand out in the crowd and have value. Oh... and it won't be $399... sorry folks.

  1. Jeronimo2000

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001



    "About 60 percent of those who bought netbooks mistakenly assumed the systems would have the same features and performance as netbooks."

    Not an unreasonable assumption, if you ask me. :)

  1. Salty

    Professional Poster

    Joined: Jul 2005


    Oh Apple

    I think people don't realize that Apple actually has a good idea of what people are gonna do with their computers and don't wanna contribute to customer dissatisfaction.

  1. joeypk07

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2007


    Apple's reputation

    Apple does not want to dilute its overall brand quality just to gain marketshare. The company will undoubtedly create some type of netbook or tablet type device in the near future, but it's unlikely that it will take the form factor of any netbook currently on the market, and may run on a trimmed down version of OSX like the iPhone. I'm sure Johnny Ive is working overtime on creating something wonderful.

    The basic point is much like you won't see BMW or Mercedes create a Yaris or Aveo, Apple is not entering that space unless it can develop the "Mini Cooper" for it.

  1. chas_m




    This is the part of the "netbook explosion" that the PC-dominated "tech" media (more like "PR release stenographers) never tell you.

    Netbooks are c*** for normal use. For the lightest of duties they are fine (and certainly better than nothing), but frankly an iPhone gives you 90% of the same functionality.

  1. ender

    Junior Member

    Joined: Mar 1999



    I can't wait for some nimrod in the US to file a class action lawsuit against netbook makes for mis-representing the capabilities of their computers.

    That's absurd, I know. But about as absurd as some of the other I won't be surprised if/when it happens.

  1. Neil Anderson

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2007


    It's true?

    I guess one really does get what one pays for. And they're surprised?

  1. shadowmac

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jun 2009


    very true

    i have friends working at bestbuy and they have all bought one, and returned or sold them. One of them even installed leopard, he took it off and sold it. When they came out last year they had close to a 50% return rate, because the customers didn't listen to the salespeople.

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