It seems like every other day we see a report suggesting that tablets are killing off consumer demand for netbooks, but last week ABI Research released results of survey suggesting that both product categories remain pretty popular. About 27 percent of those questioned said they were “very” or “extremely” interested in acquiring tablets, while the figure for netbooks was about 25 percent.

Almost half of those surveyed said they didn’t really want a tablet or a netbook though — with most of those answers coming from people who just didn’t see any need for either type of device.

The survey was conducted in March, which may have affected results a bit. At the time there weren’t nearly as many tablets on the market as there are just a few short months later — and that means there were fewer companies throwing their advertising dollars at consumers trying to interest them in Android or webOS tablets.

There have been some high profile reports recently suggesting that prominent netbook makers including Asus are scaling back their plans for mini-laptops and instead focusing on tablets. But there are still an awful lot of low cost 10 inch netbooks on the market. It’s not surprising that a few years after launch the little guys aren’t seeing the extraordinary year-after-year growth that you saw in 2008 and 2009. But tablets don’t have to kill netbooks in order to survive.

More importantly, even if netbooks were to disappear off store shelves tomorrow, they’ve already managed to accomplish something spectacular. They brought down the overall price of notebooks, particularly portable notebooks. A few years ago you simply couldn’t find a 2-3 pound laptop for under $1000. Now they’re everywhere you look.

Perhaps we’ll start to see a similar race-to-the-bottom in the tablet space soon. The difference is that while netbooks introduced the concept of “good enough” computing to the notebook space, many of the cheapest tablets available today are really barely good enough due to cheap components, sluggish processors, outdated operating systems, and unresponsive displays. That may be starting to change though.

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12 replies on “Survey: Netbooks are just as popular as tablets, plenty of people don’t care at all”

  1. I can’t run a tiling window manager on a tablet, so it’s netbooks for me.

  2. My needs are different than the average consumer I think. Sure I want to read my email and browse the web, but I also want to do light programming. I need to be able to view a PDF file, while editing code in a text window, The 1024×600 resolution is non-standard. I understand I am not going to get 1920×1080, or maybe even 1280×1024, but I computer that cannot do 1024×768 is some kind of throwback. My five year old Sharp had 1024×768, a 1GHz processor, and 512K of ram. It ran XP poorly do to it’s limited resources. What I was expecting in a netbook was small, light, modest hard disk, and enough processing power to run a decent OS. *nix runs very well with limited resources and would have satisfied me fine. This endless attachment to running Microsoft operating systems has had a detrimental effect on computer hardware since the beginning.

    Notebook computers these days have the power of desktops. I didn’t expect netbooks to be that powerful, but I did expect them to be usable. 

  3. forgot to add I made my university residence (forgot how its said in english) on it, thus the reason I love Netbooks, you can actually work on those unlike tablets.

  4. My netbook is .. about 6 months hold and has 1280×720, 10 inch screen and is fully capable of displaying 1080p videos and it cost me 320 bucks when it was released (Acer Aspire One 522)

  5. What killed the netbook for me was manufacturers no longer offering 9″ netbooks with SSDs and Linux / Windows XP. I just don’t want a larger notebook with a harddisk and Windows 7. Luckily I was able to buy 3 Asus 901go from ebay. They will last me for a while.

  6. The real Netbook killer is the ridiculously low 1024X600 resolution imposed by Intel for use of the Atom processor. 1280 X 720 is the minimum acceptable display size for decent usability. Cramming this resolution into a 10″ screen, and video capable of full HD playback with a HDMI port is what people wanted.

    I now have a phone capable of full HD video playback using HDMI. What it lacks in screen resolution is made up in portability. In my book Intel killed the netbook. I want a netbook sized computer, but I want it to be as powerfull as my current 15″Vaio, without being gouged for it. It seem that the new lines of hybrid tablets with keyboards are the solution to breaking Intel’s grip on portability, they are very appealing to me, and I’m guessing they will also appeal to a vast market sooner than later. The tablet only and netbook only format, I believe, will both die, as the fusion of the two is the future. Mass adoption of a product is linked to it’s capacity to be the best available compromise for a large pêrcentile of the market.

    Hybrids will be just that.

  7. I actually prefer netbooks over tablets for one simple reason. It has a keyboard and a mouse that I can use when I do remote desktop type connections. Honestly unless your use is simple email checking, media consumption, games, or mild web browsing a tablet just doesn’t cut it.

    1. I completely disagree. My tablet has support for a bluetooth mouse and keyboard, and since it has a higher quality screen than many notebooks it actually works better for me than my previous netbook did for RDP and VNC.

  8. I’m not surprised. Tablets are excellent media consumption devices, but netbooks rule portable content creation.
    I carry both an android tablet and a netbook at all times.

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