Intel started pushing hard last month to differentiate netbooks from notebooks, which prompted a lot of mini-laptop enthusiasts to scratch our heads. After all, netbooks are notebooks. They’re just smaller, lighter, cheaper, and less powerful than most of the notebooks on the market. I figured that Intel was trying to give consumers a reason to buy mini-laptops as companion devices, thus spending more money on computers instead of less. And that’s certainly part of it. But according to Intel marketing chief Sean Maloney, there’s another method to the madness: return rates for netbooks had been as high as 30% in some retail channels — the ones where computer sellers didn’t make the limitations of netbooks clear to customers before they shelled out their hard earned cash.
Apparently netbooks have much lower return rates in markets like Europe where computer sellers are clearly differentiating netbooks from their bigger siblings by presenting information like that shown in the slide above. Of course, you can use a mini-laptop to do some of the tasks listed on the netbook side of the chart. But most netbooks will have a hard time doing things like creating, editing, or even viewing HD video.