Troubled Economy Gives Alternative Netbook OSs a 'Hands Up', Says ABI Research

Apr 17, 2009
Nikkei Electronics Asia

According to ABI Research, while cash-strapped consumers and an economy in recession are generally bad news for sales of most products, sales of netbooks might not be so badly impacted. The diminutive Web-oriented computers have several characteristics that might actually work to their advantage in a depressed market.

According to ABI Research principal analyst, Philip Solis, "Netbook sales may not be adversely affected -- in fact may actually be helped -- by the recessionary pressures. There are three reasons for this. First, netbooks are a fairly new class of device, and widespread adoption has only recently begun. Second, they are relatively inexpensive, and some consumers may see them as a viable alternative to that pricey laptop they originally intended to buy. Finally, they can run inexpensive operating systems that don't require powerful hardware."

The research firm said that three out of every four netbooks shipped last year ran Windows XP as their operating system, but this trend is going to change. While much recent media attention has been focused on the trend to beef up netbooks and make them more laptop-like (and more expensive), the more important change has been at the lower end of this market. To create a lower-cost device, designers are turning to Linux, and, for netbooks with ARM processors, to any of several mobile device operating systems such as Android.

Mobile OSs such as Android, Windows Mobile, and Maemo can still provide the core functionality required of a netbook, but at lower cost and with smaller storage and memory requirements.

Solis said, "ABI Research believes that 2012 will see the tipping-point at which netbooks running Linux-based and mobile operating systems outnumber those running Windows XP. Device vendors, chip-makers and mobile operators can take some comfort from the fact that this trend should help expand the market even in a down economy."