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Techaisle Blog

Insightful research, flexible data, and deep analysis by a global SMB IT Market Research and Industry Analyst organization dedicated to tracking the Future of SMBs and Channels.

Small Business - I Want My Netbook!

We at Techaisle just completed a large 10 country survey of SMBs. I will showcase interesting data from that study from time to time. One of the key things the data reveals is that small businesses are very likely to drive Netbook sales in the coming months. There are two things that the data reveals

1. SBs in emerging markets are particularly interested in acquiring netbooks

2. SBs with > 20 employees show higher purchase intent than smaller SBs

The last point is particularly interesting because while the Netbook was conceived as a low cost consumer device, it is being rapidly adopted by businesses. This has several implications

- There is significant latent demand for a low cost ultra-mobile device in business markets

- The lines between "consumer" and "business" devices in the mobile computing world are clearly blurred. Thank the Blackberrys and the iPhones for that. Any distinction now is typically propagated by device manufacturers to avoid potential cannibalization of existing products

- Computing is no longer defined solely by "Intel/AMD + Microsoft + Google". While these players remain dominant, there is a lot of entropy in this eco-system now. nVidia is spreading its wings with the Tegra chips for mobile devices and GPU based processing (already available in the MacBook Air).

While a lot of applications on these new devices will likely be purely consumer oriented, there is no doubt that the creativity of software developers will lead to interesting applications for the business world as well. For example, Tegra chips deliver 1080P HD video - a boon for consumer devices but no doubt business users could use it for HD videoconferencing and other applications.

For small businesses it will invariably mean more choices for computing on the go. Ultimately though the decision to use one device over another depends upon the applications available once the initial excitement and hype of a new user experience has waned. So while these devices will be battlegrounds, the defining battles will largely be between software companies.

More information about the survey can be found here

Abhijeet Rane

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Will Netbooks Get Squeezed Out?

Qualcomm and Freescale today amnounced plans to launch "Smartbooks" - a family of internet connected devices. The name is an obvious attempt to distance themselves from the Netbook category. So what are smartbooks? The primary function is to connect to the internet. The cost Qualcomm claims will be lower than Netbooks. The battery life will be longer. They will run a Linux based OS as opposed to Windows XP or Windows 7.

But is there really a market for all these devices? or are vendors segmenting the market so finely that each segment is a mere sliver? Let us consider the full spectrum of mobile devices today from smartphones to notebooks.

mobile computingAs shown in the chart, the space in the lower left quadrant copmprising of smartphones, smartbooks and netbooks is a key competitive battleground with potentially Netbooks getting squeezed. while both smartphones and netbooks exposed a latent need for lighweight mobile computing devices, how that space consolidates is too early to tell.

One things is clear though - the traditional business computing space is not likely to be cannibalized by these devices for two reasons

1. These devices will likely be used in addition to traditional notebooks. Further these devices (netbooks excepted) will not be running Windows which is a major problem for business adoption

2. The impending release of ULVs or ultra low voltage processors will lead to lighter business PCs running industry standard OSs (Windows)

Fighting for a slice or a sliver?

Whether or not these devices will succeed depends largely on the appetite for consumers and businesses to adopt multiple devices. Given the overlap in functionality buyers will be hard pressed to make choices about which device suits them the best. Currently smartphones and netbooks have the greatest momentum. At techaisle we believe that smartphones will win. The scenario where a smartphone such as an iPhone or an Android based phone get paired with a large screen and a keyboard is an intriguing one and could well destroy the opportunity for other types of devices. Even if that doesn't happen, the market appears poised to fragment as more devices appear. While that may increase the size of the pie, vendors could be left fighting for slivers rather than slices.

Abhijeet Rane

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