Consumers think netbooks are notebooks

Terminological confusion

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Customers are perplexed about the terminology currently used by different tech vendors when it comes to understanding the difference between netbooks and notebooks, a new study has found.

The confusion is causing frustration among many consumers who bought a netbook instead of a notebook, only to find it lacked the functionality they expected, according to an NPD Group report published yesterday.

It found only 58 per cent of the 600 adults the company surveyed between 27 April and 4 May this year were satisfied with their purchase, compared to 70 per cent of customers who planned on buying a netbook from the outset.

The report’s findings showed that 60 per cent of consumers who bought a netbook expected the same functionality as that present in the beefier notebook variety of laptop available in the retail market.

Meanwhile, the all-important 18 to 24-year-old age were dissatisfied with the performance of their laptop.

The report said 65 per cent of young adults surveyed were disappointed with the product, and only 27 per cent reckoned their netbooks performed better than expected.

NPD Group pointed out that a big selling point for manufacturers punting the netbook at customers has been the portability factor. However, once purchased, 60 per cent of buyers kept their netbooks at home.

“There is a serious risk of cannibalisation 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,” said NPD veep of industry analysis Stephen Baker.

“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.”

Earlier this month the netbooks, ultrathins, subnotebooks, mini-notebooks, ULCPCs, handhelds, and ultraportables of this world were handed yet more monikers by an industry seemingly keen to further perplex its customer-base.

"Smartbooks" and "low cost small notebook PCs" courtesy of Freescale, Qualcomm and Microsoft respectively were added to the burgeoning list of names for the diminutive, portable PC (dimport, anyone?) at the Computex show in Taipei a few weeks back.

In case you remain confused by all the marketing guff being spouted by PC manufacturers right now, El Reg has a useful guide to carry you through the netbook minefield here. ®


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