Netbooks Doing Well In Recession

While we're still unsure if netbooks are ready to dabble in the corporate world, they're clearly ready to take on pretty much every other sector. In fact, they already have. According to new research from ABI Research, netbook sales really haven't been adversely affected during the recent credit crunch. Sure, the extra low price tags are mostly to thank, but even without any recessionary factors, some analysts suggest these things would still have taken off.

The report notes that the recession has definitely given netbooks an edge over larger, pricier alternatives. First off, netbooks are a new class of device, and obviously adoption tends to be rampant when a product is hot, new and unique. Secondly, their price makes them obviously more attractive than the more expensive "full size" notebook options. Finally, we're told that they can run "inexpensive operating systems that don't require powerful hardware," which honestly sounds like an extension of the second point to us.

One thing that was glossed over in the report, but that we felt was actually important, is the perception of these machines. By and large, many consumers do not see netbooks as "lame" or "weak" versions of "real notebooks." Instead, the public perception of these woefully underpowered machines are relatively positive. In fact, many feel that these are actually adequate replacements for higher-end notebooks, and that spending more for things like a faster CPU and more RAM is just a waste of money.

Further details included gems like this: three out of every four netbooks shipped in 2008 ran Windows XP (though we've heard higher). That said, ABI Research expects that to change going forward, as Linux-equipped netbooks can be sold for even less. As much as we'd love for this to be true for the sake of expanding the reach of open source, we can't help but disagree. Statistics have shown that a huge amount of Linux netbook buyers end up returning their machine rather than growing used to the OS, and we don't envision that changing in "tough times." After all, something cheap becomes something worthless if you can't operate it as expected.

Still, we'll be closely watching ABI's final prediction, as it noted that "2012 will see the tipping-point at which netbooks running Linux-based and mobile operating systems outnumber those running Windows XP."