As the UK struggles through another credit crunch Christmas and shoppers spend more time hunting out great value gifts it seems no great coincidence that computer manufacturers are focusing their attention on recession priced netbooks.
The netbook, an ultra-cheap mini-laptop designed to be used mainly to access the internet over wireless connections, has been seized on by shoppers as a great value present for 2009. Netbooks currently occupy 4 of the top 5 positions in the Amazon bestseller list in the computer category and according to Gartner their sales make up 8% of total computer sales. Netbooks start from as little as £130 and can do many of the things full sized laptops or desktops can do which makes them very attractive for cash-strapped consumers.
Simon Driscoll, spokesman for netbook comparison site top-netbooks.co.uk says “We’re seeing huge investment by the computer industry in netbooks – and they just keep getting cheaper and cheaper. Netbooks didn’t even exist until 2007 and now we’re comparing prices on over 50 makes of mini-laptop from 12 manufacturers.
“Our website is seeing surges in traffic as the Christmas shopping season starts. People seem to be doing a lot of research, trying to find the perfect netbook for them or their gift recipient. We expect this to keep ramping up into the New Year. 2010 is going to be a massive year for accessing the internet on the go and many people will opt to do their mobile computing on a netbook.”
Recent rumours about an Apple netbook and news that Google plans to produce an operating system for netbooks has raised public awareness of netbooks as a whole and it seems the confidence of having these big names associated with this new technology has driven massive demand for these mini-laptops.
When asked what netbooks are selling particularly well in the run up to Christmas Mr Driscoll said “There’s currently a huge interest in the newer netbooks that have slightly larger screen and battery life of 6 hours plus. The Asus Eee 1005HA and the Acer Aspire One 751 are selling very well. At the other end of the spectrum, the first generation of netbooks like the Acer Aspire One AOA150, which are now very cheap, are generating a large amount of interest.”
Acer chairman J.T. Wang predicts that netbook sales will double next year to 50 million units meaning that 1 in 4 laptops purchased will be a netbook making it one of the few growth areas in the PC industry.