A study by market research and consulting firm Techaisle found 52 percent of small business owners employing netbooks choose computer maker Asus as the preferred brand, while Dell and HP have higher penetration within midmarket and larger businesses. The survey also found current and potential netbook buyers are more technologically sophisticated than non-netbook owners and support mobility products within their businesses.
Small businesses employing netbooks not only support and use mobile applications such as direct push email but they also have a defined policy for the use and support of smartphones, the study found. Techaisle said the surveys were conducted across several countries in both developed and emerging markets. The study found 46 percent of small businesses that are "Likely to Buy" netbooks currently use push e-mail. These small businesses are considered by Techaisle's survey standards to be "tech savvy", using technologies such as databases, software as a service (SaaS) and collaboration technologies.
"Given the constantly improving capabilities of smartphones and the upcoming debut of Ultra Low Voltage (ULV) based PCs which will bring thin and light full size notebooks to the market, the netbook category may get squeezed", said Techaisle managing partner Abhijeet Rane. "Techaisle believes that the misconceptions around netbook capabilities could hurt traditional notebooks but could also help ULV PCs as they narrow the value proposition gap with netbooks. Netbook purchase intentions expressed by small businesses may get diluted by both ULV based notebooks and smartphones and for the netbook category to continue it needs to deliver a significant value proposition differential to the market.
As per the study, Asus brand, with 52 percent penetration, is strong among small business primarily due to early entry into the market and availability through online retailers and local VARs and resellers. Dell and HP are stronger players with higher penetration within midmarket and large businesses. The netbook study also found that purchase channels are uniquely different for netbooks than those of notebooks and desktops. The channels differ not only by the size of business but also the brands being purchased. Small businesses in Europe have shown a propensity to purchase through service providers, for instance.
"Savvy business buyers are realizing the role of netbook in their IT architecture with considerable implications for the way vendors' distribution channels and go-to-market models should be structured", said Paolo Puppoli, EMEA region for Techaisle. "Netbooks could also be a future device for push email and more."
Puppoli said findings of the study reinforce the perception that netbooks are penetrating the business landscape, and technologies like push e-mail will likely see expansion into the netbook business market. "This would require a back office set up that 1-19 employees may not have and other providers will have to step in with a more holistic and vertical solution thus influencing and changing the vendors' go-to-market models," he said. "There is nothing stopping a service provider in selling the devices and push-mailing to a netbook."