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Are tablets really the death call for netbooks?

Kitguru has been reporting on the tablet v netbook debate for the last couple of months and we thought we would revisit it today to try and get a fresh perspective on the whole thing.

There is no doubting that tablets are selling well, the sales figures for Apple’s iPad alone are enough to make company executives weak at the knees. We feel however that long term there will be a demand again for the modest, low powered netbook.

We aren’t alone with this feeling either. Dell might not get a lot of credibility for breaking new water, but their recent Inspiron Duo release is an unusual concept, designed to appeal to people who need a notebook, but who also want the quick access capabilities of a tablet.

  • The innovative flip design lets you switch from touch to type in seconds.
  • Listen to music, use as an alarm clock or view your photos with the Inspiron duo Audio Station
  • Read books, watch movies and play games on the 10″ HD display.

According to Dell this is a diverse machine and while it will be somewhat limited by the use of an Intel Atom processor, should tickle the tastebuds of mobile users looking for something new and exciting. Whether it will sell well however is another question, but if it does, then it would indicate that people might want a tablet, but may often still need to do some serious work on a full size keyboard.

Industry experts and analysts still can’t come to a universal agreement as to whether tablets are really harming netbook sales. Changewave Research said in October that only 14 percent of 3100 consumers who planned to purchase a laptop in 90 days would get a netbook, which is a drop from 18 percent at the start of 2010.

ABI Research however said that the netbook market will not be ‘gravely injured’ by the horde of iPad clones entering the market. Jeff Orr, Mobile device analyst said that annual netbook shipments continue to grow and that 36 million netbooks shipped worldwide in 2009 and an estimated 43 million will ship by the end of 2010. He does agree however that netbook sales are slowing and aren’t matching the ‘meteoric growth’ figures of the last two years.

Whether you want a keyboard or not seems to be the main selling point for a netbook, as many company executives don’t just need to check email and surf or respond to emails when they are travelling. They need full access to Office suite and need to type long documents which mean a tablet isn’t the most viable first choice.

KitGuru says : It seems for now, that there are mixed opinions on whether the netbook is dying, or if the tablet is simply a ‘fad’ high in demand with consumers, keen to try out the new technology. By this time next year, the overall picture should be a lot clearer.

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