Despite of popularity of netbooks and even cannibalization of traditional mobile PC market by inexpensive netbooks, a recent survey of our readers showed that the vast majority of information technology professionals and enthusiasts do not think that it makes sense to acquire such devices. Is it the beginning of the end for netbooks, nettops and smartbooks, or those ULCPCs have bright future as supplementary personal computers in well-developed countries or as solutions for first-time PC buyers in developing countries? We decided to find this out with three top technology companies that are involved into development of chips for netbooks, nettops and ULCPCs in general.
But before we proceed with opinions of Advanced Micro Devices, Intel Corp. and Nvidia Corp., let’s take a look what readers of X-bit labs have said.
As we see, over 60% of respondents do not believe that ULCPCs make any sense. Still, 21% of our readers own a netbook and 12.5% are planning to buy a multimedia netbook with either Nvidia GeForce 9400M/Ion chipset or based on Intel Pineview platform that also comes with improved graphics and hardware high-definition video decoding, or powered by AMD’s chips and core-logic sets.
Virtually no one owns a nettop or a smartbook and just about 2% of respondents would buy either of them. This could be explained rather easily: people want performance on their desks and smartbooks, which do not run Windows, are considered as companions for smartphones, something, which not all smartphone users understand as they already own ultra-thin business notebooks for that purpose.
In fact, before running ULCPC-related poll, we ran a survey about preferred mobile PC form-factors not so long ago. Here are the results:
It appears that the most popular mobile form-factors are 12”, 13” and 15”. 10” and 17” tend to be in demand as well, but they are still below the more popular options. What is noteworthy is that there are only 13.6% of users, who would like to own a mobile computer with screen diagonal below traditional 12” (for an ultra-small machine). At the same time, there are 23% of those, who would like to have a traditional ultra-thin 12” or 13” mobile PC.
The fact that only 5% want to have a 14” notebook is also explainable: you can easily have a comfort of a traditional 14” laptop with a wide-screen 13.3” ultra-slim mobile computer. However, when the vast majority of buyers arrive to a store and see the price difference between them, they may change their minds in favour of a slightly larger option.
All-in-all, 41.2% of respondents prefer to have traditional notebooks (12” – 15”) and 27.1% would like to own either something ultra-small (e.g., a netbook – 13.6%) or bulky and powerful (e.g., a gaming/workstation notebook – 13.5%).
It appears that the three companies that develop chips for various ultra-small or ultra-cheap personal computers – AMD, Intel, Nvidia – tend to say that there are people who need them. So, today we are talking about who needs those devices and for what purpose.