Netbooks Gain Credibility with Vendors, Enterprises

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2009-10-14

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

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. 

Netbooks Gain Credibility with Vendors, Enterprises

5. The power deficit isn't noticeable

Although netbooks are less powerful than their notebook counterparts, the power deficit isn't so noticeable if a company has realistic expectations. No, the netbook won't be capable of running that high-end accounting software. It might not even run time-sheet software. But when users are checking e-mail, editing documents and surfing the Web, I think they'll be happy with what they find.

6. More vendors care about netbooks

Just a few months ago, there weren't nearly as many vendors developing netbooks. For the most part, they were still unsure just how netbooks would be received in the marketplace. But now, more vendors than ever are offering netbooks. And thanks to that, those vendors are competing for the same money. They need to constantly improve netbooks to stay ahead. It means an arms race is upon us and it's a great time for any company to capitalize on this emerging trend.

7. Vendors are targeting companies

Although the netbook was originally a consumer-oriented product, more vendors have realized that they might be useful for companies, as well. That's why so many of the netbooks currently offered by those vendors provide a corporate-friendly focus on portability and productivity in simple tasks. It's a fine time for companies to try out those netbooks.

8. Economic times are uncertain

This might follow the item that netbooks are cheaper than notebooks, but I think it's important for companies to consider the economic times that we all find ourselves in. As most economists have said, the recovery is fragile and anything can happen to send the economy back into a tailspin. Realizing that, companies should be careful in how they spend their money. Netbooks seem like an ideal target for that.

9. It'll only get better

When Microsoft releases Windows 7 on Oct. 22, the company will also offer a Starter edition designed specifically for netbooks. Microsoft claims Starter will be far more reliable for netbook owners. They should also see an improvement in performance. Assuming that's true, Windows 7 could open a new door for software and netbooks. The enterprise should be on the cutting edge of that.

10. Sales mean improvements

As mentioned earlier, netbooks are selling quickly-much faster than any other type of computer on the market. As more vendors realize that, they will continue to improve netbooks to stay one step ahead of their competitors. It's the enterprise and the consumer that will benefit most from that.

Netbooks have finally arrived in the enterprise. And it's time for companies to start trying them out and putting them to work where it makes the most sense.

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