The Value Proposition of Netbooks Is Getting Overlooked

benq-joybook-lite-u101-netbook-4So another big name is trashing netbooks today. This time, it’s Michael Dell saying, “[I]f you take a user who is used to a 14-inch or 15-inch notebook, and then give them a 10-inch netbook, a few hours later they want their big screen back.” Since Dell built the company on the back of desktops, I guess I’m not surprised by this statement. Low profit margins probably aren’t helping the cause of netbooks, either. Of course, I can’t argue with his point that netbooks are “not a replacement for a high-end machine for an experienced user.” Gee, ya think? Thanks for that news flash.

To me, this is just another example of someone missing the overall value proposition of netbooks. It’s not just their low price that’s appealing. And it isn’t just because they’re highly portable and run far longer than most notebooks. Nor is it because they can handle the majority of everyday computing tasks in an x86 world. It’s the combination of all three points that makes a netbook an attractive device.

The timing on this is actually perfect. On Monday, Om wrote a valid post on the blurring lines between netbooks and notebooks. In a rare moment of respectful disagreement, I wrote a bit of an opposing viewpoint yesterday. In that piece, I covered this value proposition with my “3P Triangle”: the more you move towards one of the three points — price, performance and portability — the more you move away from one or two of the others. Right now, netbooks are the closest device to the center of the triangle because of the overall value package. I’d be curious as to your thoughts — especially since I compared the netbook/notebook market to that of hammers and sledgehammers. Now that’s something you don’t read about everyday! ;)

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