Netbooks have a few things going for them. They’re smaller, lighter, and cheaper than most laptops. But they also tend to emphasize internet connectivity with built in WiFi capabilities. But while plenty of folks have installed 802.11b, g, or n networks in their homes, ultraportable devices really shine when you take them out of the house. Becuase let’s face it, it’s not that hard to move your 7 pound laptop from the living room to the bedroom. But you don’t really want to lug it to the coffee shop. So it’s shouldn’t be that surprising that new research sells netbooks are selling best in big cities, because those are the areas that tend to have a greater concentration of WiFi hotspots.
A study from NPD finds that netbooks are hot in New York, San Francisco, Miami, San Diego, Washington D.C., Los Angeles and Boston. Those markets are typically seen as areas where tech does well, but I’m going to venture a guess that the presence of WiFi has a lot to do with the success of netbook as well. Nationwide, about 9.8% of notebooks sold in the US are netbooks. But in New York, for example, that figure is 12.3%. I lived in New York for a year and I could usually find a coffee shop, library, or other unsecured public WiFi hotspot in almost any part of Manhattan.
Perhaps we’ll see netbooks make bigger gains in other parts of the country the coming years as wireless companies including AT&T and Verizon begin offering mini-laptops bundled with 3G modems for wireless broadband access using the cellphone network.
NPD says notebook sales grew by 15.7% between October and April. That figure would have been just 3.6% if you took netbooks out of the equation.