The Middle Ground
Netbooks have another problem in the enterprise: They don't have a place in the market. As the enterprise becomes more connected, employees are more reliant than ever on smartphones. Whether it's the iPhone or a BlackBerry, professionals are using the small devices to stay in touch when they're away from a computer. When they do have access to a computer, they need to have a product that's capable of handling their needs. They need that laptop with the 2.4GHz processor. They require that DVD drive. They need Windows XP Professional to ensure they have the right operating system to do their job. Simply put, they need a laptop or a desktop.
So that leaves the netbook squarely between two necessities. An Asus Eee PC isn't quite as small or handy as a BlackBerry. And an Acer Aspire One isn't as powerful as an HP notebook. And since the netbook is, by its very nature, a more portable computer, companies are hard-pressed to find reasons to buy it for employees. After all, if they have the small device for mobile business access and the powerful device for real work, how does the netbook fit into that equation? So far, that question hasn't been answered.
Those who support netbooks claim that the technology doesn't cause users to lose productivity. But given the fact that most netbooks have keyboards that are smaller than standard keyboards, that argument might not hold up. On numerous occasions, I've tried to type long documents on a netbook and found that my hands were cramped, I made far too many mistakes and the keyboard was simply too small for what I was trying to do. I never grew accustomed to it. Realizing that, it's difficult to say that the enterprise could enjoy the same productivity by deploying netbooks instead of laptops. Employees would have trouble typing out documents and they simply wouldn't be comfortable performing basic tasks. Not to mention, the netbook's underpowered specs could cause slow-downs. It would be a real hindrance.
And perhaps that's the mantra as we consider netbooks for the enterprise. They might be useful to some, but when it comes to business, they're a real hindrance.
And they have no place in the enterprise.