Like every new technology that seems to be an instant hit with consumers, pundits all of all sorts cannot help but claim it to be a fad. Are netbooks are fad? Is the fact that they’re selling faster than conventional laptops a sign of the death of laptops? (What is a netbook?)
If you’re curious about the netbook phenomenon and are even considering purchasing one but are wondering if you should because in a few months they will be gone, read on.
What is a fad anyway?
The dictionary defines a fad as a fashion that is taken up with great enthusiasm for a brief period of time; a craze. One example of a fad I remember vividly is the whole wearing jeans backwards because we were all mesmerized by the teenage Hip Hop group Kris Kross. Remember that? It was in the early 90s! Anyway, within a few months, you looked rather stupid!
Back to netbooks…
To figure out if they’re a fad, you have to see who’s buying them in the first and for what purpose they’re being purchased.
Most netbook buyers I have spoken to are saving money, saving space, reducing weight or simply having a complementary computer. In other words, they’re not buying netbooks for show and letting them sit around and gather dust.
I hear of reports of netbooks being returned in high numbers in Europe. The pessimist pundits use that to say that these mini-laptops are whack and that they’re fads because people buy them and realize that they do not need them or that they break down easily.
I hunted down for that piece of news and it turned out that Linux netbooks see a 4 times higher return rate than netbooks. That makes sense because Linux is not a mainstream operating system and thus if you’re no geek, you will have a hard time figuring it out. In other words, even if you had a normal laptop with Linux and you encountered problems, you would be stuck if you were not familiar with Linux.
So, people who are returning netbooks are those who do not know how to use the operating systems (Why you should not buy netbooks). It does not mean that it’s because they break down or that they do not want them anymore!
We, the shoppers, are not dumb. When we find something cheaper, lighter and smaller that still gets the job done, we will settle for it without a problem (7 Good Reasons to Buy a Netbook over a Laptop Computer). Sure, a few people have no business buying netbooks like I wrote before. But for the average computer user, a netbook is the right computer choice because you can still surf the net, check your emails, listen to your music, watch your movies and even write your assignment using Word.
Netbooks are here to stay (How to buy a netbook notebook). They will not kill laptops like DVD killed VHS. They will live happily together. I even suspect that most people will have a laptop for home or heavy-duty (movie editing or gaming) use and a netbook for when they’re on the move.
Are netbooks a fad? Nope. They are just what consumers want and need in these times of hard economic turmoil and WiFi ubiquity. At the end of the day, there’s only so much you can do with your Blackberry or iPhone. Netbooks will not kill them either. Most people who have a Blackberry or a data loaded iPhone will not see the use of a netbook. But for the majority who do not own these smartphones, netbooks will be the perfect solution. (Ever wonder if netbooks will kill laptops?)
So next time, you read or hear that netbooks are a fad just know that the person may be clueless. You can even throw this very nice stat around:
Users are expected to purchase 11 million netbooks this year (2008), from 182,000 in 2007, according to market researcher IDC as read in Business Week.