Intel: Netbooks Not for First Time Buyers. Really?

Intel went on the record with Reuters saying netbooks are not a good first computer with Reuters in the article Intel Sees No First-Time PC Buyers for Netbooks. Why not? According to Intel's Sean Maloney, the first time you buy something, like a PC, you want the “real deal.” Does this make sense to you, or is this is subtle plea for buyers to stick with higher margin products like laptops and desktops?

Part of the pitch from Maloney and Intel is that new customers don't really want an underpowered sub-computer that includes expensive wireless connection charges that quickly overwhelm the purchase price. In other words, the old “cost of acquisition versus the cost of ownership” argument. Does this line of reasoning work for you?

This doesn't necessarily work for me. There's nothing that demands people buy an expensive wireless data network policy with a netbook, even though more and more companies are offering these (Cellular South stores now selling Dell Inspiron Mini 10 netbook).

I stubbornly insist people look at the jobs they need to do before deciding on the computer to do them. In many cases, a netbook works great for beginners. If you already have home broadband of some kind, the wireless data network costs don't enter into the equation, or they don't if you work at home most of the time.

Younger people, with smaller hands and sharper eyes, avoid two of the largest barriers to netbook acceptance, the slightly smaller keyboard and smaller screen. A netbook may be a perfect first computer for them. Those who play games can't use a netbook because of the lack of horsepower, but a netbook is fine for those who spend most of their time on Facebook. After all, netbooks easily handle uploading and tagging photos.

Intel also states developing countries echo this same observation about a netbook not being a good first computer. This contradicts Intel's own statements earlier where they said a netbook was a great way to introduce computing in emerging markets.

Now that full sized laptops are the same price as many netbook models, cost isn't the issue for most people. Choosing the appropriate tool for the job sometimes means the value of portability and enough horsepower for the job at hand means a netbook is the perfect choice. That logic applies if it's your first of fiftieth computer.

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