Tom’s Hardware readers know what netbooks are and also know what netbooks aren’t. It seems, however, that the rest of the buying public doesn’t possess the same sort of knowledge.
According to a study by the NPD Group, 60-percent of consumers who purchased a netbook believed that their machines are the same as notebooks.
While the lines between netbooks and notebooks are blurring, there is still a distinguishing line in the performance differences between the two. Even the fastest Atom processor is still modest compared to the entry-level Intel Celeron CPU, and so netbooks are by nature less powerful.
The confusion between the differences between what a netbook and notebook are capable of may have triggered some consumer dissatisfaction. NPD figured that only 58 percent of consumers who bought a netbook (but were shopping for a notebook) said they were very satisfied with their purchase. In contrast, 70-percent of consumers who planned on buying a netbook from the start were ultimately satisfied with their purchase.
Among 18- to 24-year-olds, one of the main target markets for netbook makers, 65-percent said they bought their netbooks expecting better performance, and only 27-percent said their netbooks performed better than expected, reported the NPD.
“We need to make sure consumers are buying a PC intended for what they plan to do with it," said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD. “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.”
Portability seems to be a key feature that netbook buyers already understand from looking at the product. 60-percent of netbook buyers cited portability as the main reason why they purchased the product, but interestingly, 60-percent of netbook owners admitted to have never taken their computers out of their homes.