Netbooks? They Still Aren’t Enterprise Grade


Can you tell the difference between an ultraportable and a netbook?  Don Reisinger can’t either – but he knows that netbooks are not yet good enough for serious enterprise use

Sony has announced an ultraportable Vaio notebook Wednesday, complete with an 11.1-inch display, an Atom processor and built-in 3G networking. The company was quick to point out that the notebook isn’t a netbook.

But when we compare its specs with Sony’s recently announced W netbook series (or any other netbook on the market, for that matter), it’s far more similar to a netbook than a notebook. In fact, an argument can be made that Sony’s new VAIO X ultraportable is really a netbook by another name.

But why does Sony feel compelled to label the device as an “ultraportable?” It’s not like being a netbook is a bad thing.

According to a report from market analyst DisplaySearch, the portability and low price points on netbooks are starting to “cannibalise” notebook sales. In fact, netbook sales have been so strong, thanks in part to companies like Dell, HP, and Acer, that the entire notebook PC market posted strong gains over previous quarterly and annual figures (and operating system providers are fighting to own it).

It seems that in today’s market, offering a netbook to end users seems like a smart plan.

But trying to decide if a particular computer is an ultraportable notebook or a netbook is becoming increasingly difficult. At one time, ultraportables and their 11- to 13-inch displays were easily distinguishable from the netbooks with 7-, 8- and 9-inch displays on the market.

But as netbooks have grown in popularity, so too have their screen sizes. Sony itself offers a 10-inch netbook. Dell decided recently to discontinue its 12-inch netbooks. That said, some companies, like HP, Acer, and Asus have enjoyed strong sales on their larger netbooks.

Atoms and 3G

Comparing those products to ultraportables becomes even more difficult as we consider their specs. netbooks have Intel Atom processors. Ultraportables have Intel Atom processors. Ultraportables are starting to add 3G networking. Netbooks have 3G networking. At this point, even the price differences between the two product categories are so slight that it’s difficult for anyone to tell a difference.

So while the name of the product might not matter, it’s what it does that will matter. Company needs are changing. At one point, the idea of any company not using a desktop in their operation was outlandish.

Now, any company that’s still tying employees down to a desk is behind the times. But as those companies have gone more mobile, their businesses have also evolved. Gone are the days of unending spreadsheets. Here are the days of cloud computing.

Today’s enterprise requires more than what a simple netbook or ultraportable notebook can deliver. Although the netbook is becoming a powerhouse in the market, it’s not necessarily captivating the business world. Those users need more than a lightweight computer with 3G networking.