Seeing as you are sitting there reading this article on Zath and being generally tech-aware it is fair to say that you probably know a pretty good definition of a netbook and a notebook. And would definitely be able to tell the difference between them (with the notable exception of the Sony Viao P-Series). However if you were to buy a netbook with this knowledge you would, amazingly, be in the minority.
According to a recent NPD survey around 60% of people who purchased netbooks did so under the impression that they had the same functionality, i.e. the same thing as a notebook just crammed into a smaller case. This, oddly enough, has led to a few people being pretty disappointed when they get their new netbook home and turn it on.
In fact NPD say that only 58% of consumers who made this mistake were very satisfied with their purchase, which means that at least 25% of people purchasing netbooks do so without realising what they are for, and are then disappointed by the result.
This does seem rather odd as you would have thought most buyers would fall into two categories — the tech savvy ones who would know the difference anyway (under 40% of people according to the figures), and those that would have to ask for help in deciding what to spend their spare £300+ on and you would have thought that neither group would make such an elementary two letter mistake.
Another interesting statistic that has come out of the survey is the age range which are most unhappy with the performance of their netbook — the 18-24 year olds. Whilst you may think that they would be most aware of the specifications and thus the performance of netbooks before buying it would appear that they either overestimate the power of a 1.66GHz Atom processor or remain ignorant despite their popularity.
Finally the NPD also looked at how the portability selling point translated into real usage and again it doesn’t look all that good — however although 60% cited it as the main reason for buying the netbook the same percentage didn’t even take it out of the house. That’s at least 10% of people buying netbooks specifically for the fact that they can be easily transported and moved around, and then not utilising that anyway.
So what should we do? Stephen Baker (vice president of industry analysis at NPD) has his ideas:
“We need to make sure consumers are buying a PC intended for what they plan to do with it, there is a serious risk of cannibalization in the notebook market that could cause a real threat to netbooks’ success. Retailers and manufacturers can’t put too much emphasis on PC-like capabilities and general features that could convince consumers that a netbook is a replacement for a notebook. Instead, they should be marketing mobility, portability, and the need for a companion PC to ensure consumers know what they are buying and are more satisfied with their purchases.”
So is it the manufacturers fault for marketing the netbooks in a way that implies they have the same features as a notebook (which to be honest for the most part they do, just slower)? Or should we be pointing the finger at the people actually selling the devices and make them improve their sales service so that people aren’t buying things they don’t want? Or is it just a case that far too high a percentage of the population are spending money without researching the product properly? I don’t know, but I think an approach that aims to tackle all three of these problems is a good idea to stop thousands of buyers from being disappointed!
Via – NPD