Consumer Sentiment Shifting on Netbooks, Survey Says
Consumer thinking about netbooks is shifting,
according to a survey by PriceGrabber.com, a comparison shopping service.
Compared with data collected a year earlier, the results of the survey indicate that consumers are increasingly open to the idea of netbooks while wanting still lower prices.
"Netbooks are not only becoming more popular, but they also have helped set new price expectations for consumers," stated the report, released Feb. 16. PriceGrabber.com in the report defined a netbook as a notebook computer having a price under $500, a low-power processing chip and a screen smaller than 11 inches.
"Survey data reveals a significant difference between the dollar amount consumers are willing to pay for their next computing device and the amount they paid for their last device," the report said. "Sixty-five percent of consumers say the maximum amount they plan to spend on their next computing device is $750, even though 52 percent of online consumers spent more than $750 on their last device."
The average price of devices in the laptop category is also falling, PriceGrabber.com said. While the average laptop price in December 2009 was $645, just a year earlier it was $808-a difference of 20 percent. The least-expensive netbook in December was the Asus Eee PC 1005HA Seashell, being sold for $279, followed by the Toshiba Mini NB205-N210 at $342.
Going back further still, the average price in December 2007 was $1,036, and at the end of 2006 it was $1,234. PriceGrabber.com said these numbers reflect "merchants lowering prices on laptops and netbooks, as well as consumers looking to spend less."
Despite the low prices of netbooks, and consumer desire for low price points, the devices are still viewed as complements to laptops, not replacements.
While 25 percent of netbook owners surveyed by PriceGrabber said a netbook was a replacement for an expensive laptop, only 14 percent of overall consumers surveyed agreed. Additionally, 63 percent of netbook owners told PriceGrabber that they use their netbooks as mobile devices, while another 5 percent saw netbooks as laptops for children.
The majority age of netbook owners also shifted between January 2009 and 2010, the survey found. While in early 2009 most netbook owners were between 35 and 54 years of age, in early 2010 the netbook-owning majority is now those between 45 and 64 years of age, based on the survey's data.
In 2009, 18-to-24 year olds made up only 2 percent of netbook owners surveyed-and in 2010 that rose to only 3 percent.
While netbook sales are expected to continue to increase, analysts have predicted slower netbook sales growth than was seen in the past two years. Of the consumers included in PriceGrabber.com's 2010 survey, only 11 percent said they planned to buy a netbook over the next 12 months, while 20 percent planned to buy a smartphone and 30 percent reported planning a laptop purchase.