This situation is repeated several times per day at large stores and online at e-tailers. I spoke with the returns clerk after the incident and he told me it was a very common happening now due to the great prices being offered on the netbooks and the limited knowledge of the average consumer. He also noted that they only had open demos of the very high-end variety which gave most people a false impression of the way that all netbooks performed.
After hearing this I took a quick tour around the store and found that there was indeed only one netbook on display. It was a $700 HP offering while the common netbooks were stacked up with large signs showing the great deals on them without a single model for potential buyers to see woking.
So we see the economy driving people to netbooks without them fully understanding what a netbook is. The cost of the low powered systems is a very attractive thing especially when you are counting every dollar. Yet, the average user really needs more than just your typical netbook or nettop can provide. Does this mean we really do need the ION platform or faster Via and Intel CPUs for the netbook? I say no, as for the most part these new parts will drive up the cost of the netbooks while not truly giving most consumers what they are really looking for.
We need to see more consumer awareness on what netbooks can and cannot do. We also need to see some better ethics in the sales practices of the OEMs and package stores when it comes to selling these products.
What happened recently isn't just limited to Sean's experiences. We are now seeing that netbooks are getting DVD-ROM drives, larger screens and many other features that belong to a proper notebook segment. Last night, I had a conversation with one of the editors, who openly attacked Sean's original piece. However, the fact of the matter is very simple - you cannot sell a netbook for $800 and claim that it is a netbook. It is a seriously underpowered notebook that is not able to drive the resolution of the display, yet alone perform normally in tasks needed by the average consumer.
At the same time, Intel is in danger of building all those Fabs for nothing, since average ASP of the netbook cannot be as high or sell as fast as the foundries depriciate. We plan to bring a series of articles that will consider system building and all the aspects that need to be accounted for, and we hope that industry can draw a conclusion out of them. For that series, we are working with experienced system builders. Stay tuned.
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