Are the glory days of the netbook over?

Netbooks have been the one bright spot in PC sales over the last year. But there's some evidence that the glory days of the netbook are over, and that buyers will turn to more traditional notebooks.

The latest evidence for it comes from a survey by the the NPD Group, which found that only 58% of people who bought netbooks rather than notebooks were satisfied with their purchase.

Computerworld reports that

The disappointment with netbooks -- NPD analyst Stephen Baker preferred that term rather than "dissatisfaction" -- stemmed from expectations that a netbook was the same, more or less, as a laptop. Six out of every 10 netbook buyers, said Baker, thought that the two were equivalent, and figured that their new netbook would have the same functionality as a laptop.

The problem was particularly acute with a key demographic for netbook buyers, 18-to-24-year-olds. Computeworld notes:

Among 18-to-24-year-olds, an important demographic to netbook sellers, who tout low prices to the money-challenged college-aged crowd, 65% said they expected better performance than they got from their netbooks. Only about one in four, 27%, said their netbooks performed better than anticipated.

An unhappy netbook buyer isn't likely to buy a netbook again; most likely they'll upgrade to a notebook.

Netbook makers have already recognized that ultra-low cost notebooks with tiny screens and keyboards may be on the way out. Many have announced larger model sizes, which they expect to ultimately outsell netbooks.

The Computerworld article notes that a new generation of notebooks is coming out, priced between $500 and $1000, which "sport screens larger than netbooks, but cost considerably less than current ultra-portable notebooks.

They're called CULV, or "consumer ultra-low voltage" devices, and they'll likely be the Next Big Thing, as netbook sales wane.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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