10 Reasons Why It's Time for Enterprises to Embrace Netbooks

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2009-10-14 Print this article Print

News Analysis: Netbooks have caught on in a big way with consumers and many business users. But companies are still struggling with the question of whether or not netbooks have the features and horsepower to work effectively in their operations. With the amazingly rapid development of netbook designs, it's time for enterprises to give these ultralight and inexpensive notebook PCs a chance to prove their worth.

Nokia, the world's largest cell phone maker, is getting into the world of netbook computing in a big way. The company's netbooks will be offered in several stores across the United States.

Nokia's Booklet 3G will set owners back just $299. This news follows rather interesting figures from market research company DisplaySearch, which found that netbook sales rose sharply year over year by 264 percent.

So it seems that finally, after waiting for netbooks to have the kinks worked out, the technology is ready for mass-market appeal. But is it ready for the enterprise? Historically, that has been a place where power and usability trump portability. And it's that portability factor that makes netbooks attractive in the first place.

But after a long wait, I'm starting to think that netbooks really are ready for the enterprise.

Here's why:

1. They're so portable

The netbook isn't like the desktop, which will always be anchored to the employee's desk. It's not even like the notebook, which offers some portability with more power. Instead, the netbook has carved out a niche as a device for employees who travel and need basic functionality. Netbooks won't run resource-intensive software, but they will run the basics. And if it that's all some employees need, it's far better to buy a cheaper netbook than a more expensive notebook.

2. They're cheap

Following that, companies need to remember that netbooks are extremely affordable. The average price of a nice, well-equipped netbook is about $300 for consumers. Companies will easily be able to save cash. Why give some employees computers that they don't really need? If an organization believes some people could be fine with netbooks, it should go with that.

3. They're reliable

A netbook won't impress the user with its power, but it might impress with its reliability. For the most part, netbooks are robust machines that can be counted on for the simple tasks so many employees engage in on a daily basis. Netbooks aren't perfect, of course, but most companies that deploy them across the enterprise will find that they can be relied upon for many tasks.

4. The screens aren't that small

Many companies look at netbooks and say the screens are too small for the average employee. But once they get their hands on a netbook, I think they'll find that the screen, while much smaller than the average notebook's, isn't so bad. Dell's Mini 10 has a vibrant display that does a fine job of appealing to users. A 10-inch screen isn't so bad. 

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.

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