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Small Business Owners Buying Millions Of Netbooks - For Themselves!

Techaisle reported yesterday that SMBs will buy 1.1 million Netbook this year, and another 3.5 million in 2010. I wanted to know what small businesses were doing with all those new machines, so I called up Abhijeet Rane, Partner and Senior Vice President at the research firm.
Techaisle reported yesterday that SMBs will buy 1.1 million Netbook this year, and another 3.5 million in 2010. I wanted to know what small businesses were doing with all those new machines, so I called up Abhijeet Rane, Partner and Senior Vice President at the research firm.According to the Techaisle's global research, "between 22% and 30% of SMBs state they are looking at Netbook purchases as they consider upgrading their core desktop and notebooks." For small businesses, "Right now the attraction is the weight, and the cost and the battery life," Rane said.

How Do SMBs Use Netbooks? But what are they going to use these light, cheap, and long-lasting Netbooks for? Rane said the Netbooks were largely being bought by small business owners to augment the computers they already have. "They are not replacing existing laptops," he said. "Typically, it's the business owner, who's fairly mobile," buying it for himself as an extra machine.

Rane explained that standard laptops entered the small business market as desktop replacements, and companies usually bought relatively large machines with good-size screens. Eventually, though, "people got tired of lugging around 6 and 7-pound notebooks." So if they just want to do email, Web usage, and light document production, they'll get a Netbook and leave their laptop in the office whenever they can.

Thats why when Techaisle asked SMBs whether they were considering Netbooks to replace laptops, the percentage who said they were "very likely" to do so was "quite small," Rane said.

Are Netbooks finding a role in SMBs by enabling new uses in new locations where other computers just won't fit or aren't practical? "Some of those do exist," Rane allowed, but not enough to justify sales in the millions. But he suggested that Dell's rumored plans for Android-powered Netbooks could open up new business uses for the small machines.

The Future Of Netbooks Looking beyond the SMB market alone, Techaisle cited two key factors in Netbook adoption:

  1. Highly price sensitive SMBs are taking advantage of lower prices sacrificing computing power, screen size and gaming ability
  2. A new segment of mobile device buyers are entering the market expanding the market for mobile computing devices.

The business decision now, Rane said, is whether to buy an iPhone (very portable and great at content consumption) or a notebook (less portable, but more suited for content creation), and Netbooks fit somewhere in between. The rise of Netbooks, he added, shows "a latent demand fro mobile devices that let you do these things."

Going forward, though, the differences between the devices is likely to blur, as prices and sizes converge. If a Netbook costs only $50 - $100 less than a more powerful notebook, "what happens then?" Rane predicted that most businesses will go for the bigger, more powerful machine unless there's a very significant difference in portability.

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