My article from a couple of weeks ago, Fast Food Apple Pies and Why Netbooks Suck, got a lot of reactions from both the “You’re right!” and “You’re dead wrong!” camps (the article on Global Nerdy got a fair number of comments, but the same article on the Accordion Guy blog got a hundred comments).
Here’s some evidence to back my theory that netbooks are like Burger King apple pies – that is, they look like laptops, but don’t offer the same capabilities, leading to disappointment: a report from NPD Group, a market research company titled NPD Finds Consumer Confusion about Netbooks Continues.
Some highlights from the report:
- 60% of the people interviewed by NPD who purchased a netbook instead of a notebook thought their netbooks would have the same functionality as notebooks.
- 58% who bought a netbook instead of a notebook said they were “very satisfied” with their purchase, compared to 70% who planned on buying a notebook from the get-go.
- In the 18- to 24- year old group, the group that many commenters said would embrace netbooks, 65% said they bought their netbooks expecting better performance; only 27% said that netbook performance exceeded their expectations.
- Portability is a big selling point for netbooks and a point that many commenters brought up, but 60% of the people surveyed said that they never even took their netbooks out of the house.
It’s just as I said: the form factor of netbooks – they look like laptops, but smaller – sets up people for disappointment in the same way that Burger King’s apple pies did. They looked like homemade apple pies, but didn’t taste like them.
The Real Point of Fast Food Apple Pies and Why Netbooks Suck
When I first wrote Fast Food Apple Pies and Why Netbooks Suck, my intent was to post it in the official Microsoft Canada Developer blog, Canadian Developer Connection. I didn’t want the legal department on my back, which is why I referred to Burger King and McDonald’s as “Monarch Burger” and “Jester Burger”, respectively.
I feel that there’s a little too much excitement about netbooks at Microsoft. I think that part of it stems from the old company mantra, “a computer on every desktop and in every home”. The PC is the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg, and the closer that a device is to the PC, the more Microsoft “gets” it. I feel that Microsoft sees the netbook as an exciting new space, where I see them as smaller, less powerful laptops. I think that eventually, as technology catches up, netbooks will simply be considered “computers” – just on the small end of the PC size spectrum, and that Microsoft should treat them as such.
The article is also an open letter to Microsoft stating my concern that netbooks are a dangerous red herring distracting us from where the real potential in mobile computing is: the smartphone. It’s an area where Microsoft had an early lead and dropped the ball. It’s an area where I feel that Microsoft is showing a lack of vision, from Steve Ballmer’s ill-considered dismissal of the iPhone (“There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance.”) to Windows Mobile 6, which feels as though it was half-assedly slapped together by PDA designers frozen in an iceberg in 2000.
I think I’ll close with the graphic that summarized Fast Food Apple Pies and Why Netbooks Suck: