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Michael Dell Doesn’t Want You To Buy His Netbooks



I get it and I don’t get it. Netbooks are the Pandora’s box of computer manufacturers. They all jumped on the bandwagon to enter the market once Asus launched the phenomenon. They couldn’t not compete in that market. That said, many have spent time poo-pooing Netbooks because they fear the dent it will make  in their higher end sales.

Michael Dell has done this before and he’s at it again speaking at a recent event. Here’s what he had to say.

Take a user who’s used to a 15-inch notebook and then give him a 10-inch netbook. He’ll say ‘Oh, this is so cool, it’s so lightweight.’ Then 36 hours later he’ll say the screen’s not big enough, give me my 15-inch back.

On many levels you can’t argue with that point, but in the category of wanting your cake and eating it too, Dell and those who talk down Netbooks need to seriously look in the mirror when it comes to their own marketing. On the one hand they are responding to what they think consumers want (they wouldn’t make Netbooks if they weren’t selling them), and on the other they are extremely unhappy at having to do so. The simple answer is to clarify how all of their devices are marketed, but then that would threaten the low end and undercut that investment.  It really is a trap of their own making.

Via GigaOm



  1. Matthew

    10/14/2009 at 9:15 am

    I am all for simple explains, and I think that Dell’s actions have a very simple explanation.

    Netbooks have their high points, and informed consumers are satisfied with their purchases. However, consumers that don’t value portability/battery life are getting the shaft when the by a netbook because it’s cheap. Netbooks are small, slow, and their RAM is limited. Dell looks bad when uninformed consumers feel that they were duped!

    Dell can’t even address the main speed issue due to 1GB RAM limit on XPsp3. I don’t blame Dell for pushing people away from Netbooks. They lose money (compared to an up-sell) and they lose reputation. Dell keeps netbooks in the catalog because no up-sell is better than no sell-at-all.

  2. MarceloR

    10/14/2009 at 9:31 am

    I think current netbooks are good only as a second laptop. There are times when the small size is convenient. I don’t own any myself as I mainly use tablets and these I have in three sizes.

    I did own an early Vaio PCG-C1XS (Picturebook) before Sony diluted processing power by using Transmeta processors. That machine was even smaller than most current netbooks. It was really nice to use, mainly because it had the same Intel chip that was used on full size laptops with close to par performance. I could hook it up to external screen and keyboard and make do with just that one laptop.

    Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about netbooks since performance is so lacking in comparison with a full laptop. Not too many people think about using their portable with external display and keyboard anyways but the performance issue will certainly deter those who do and who can only afford to have a single machine.

    However, a substantial number of people make their buying decision based on price. New buyers are often choosing netbooks over a laptop by accepting the compromises. This is indeed a troubling trend for manufacturers simply because the introduction of these machines produced an unprecedented sudden step down in the pricing structure of the industry that will take a very long time for manufacturers to adjust. They will cry along the way!

  3. GoodThings2Life

    10/14/2009 at 11:53 am

    His comments stink of corporate propaganda to give a shout-out and boost to supporting partners like Microsoft and Intel.

    It’s not that I don’t agree… I hate netbooks for EXACTLY the same reason he describes. I want portable but genuinely functional, and I don’t feel functional on less than 12″ screens and large amounts of RAM.

    But he’s flat out wrong on the “latest processor” comment when it comes to Windows 7, so it’s a blatant attempt to get people to run out and buy new profitable systems with Intel and Microsoft tech so that everybody wins.

    Ironically, in spite of the comments, that mentality is what our economy really needs for a good boost.

  4. M

    10/14/2009 at 8:52 pm

    Sad to say I’m a recent convert to a netbook. I used to carry around a big macbook pro everywhere I went. Class..Work…Coffee Shop…My poor back was giving out. I’m an engineering student so running Matlab is like life there. But I’ve found that I’m just a little patience in load up and daring enough to upgrade my ram the netbook isn’t such a bad deal. Yes it’s slow at times. Yes it’s screen is way small. But a small computer I can throw in my handbag over a computer that must go in a backpack wins in my book. Your mileage may vary but so far it’s been a really good experience.


    10/15/2009 at 11:02 am

    @matthew, the XP 1GB ram limit is a license limit, not a software limit.

    basically, microsoft put it there to make sure the resellers would not use it to put windows xp on their bigger machines, in a effort to push vista, while microsoft dropped the XP oem license price thru the floor to try and cut of the approaching linux installs…


    10/15/2009 at 11:12 am

    and to the rest of the commenters here, especially those that complain about speed.

    how many of you mainly use the computer for browsing? or do you work with media, photos, video, audio, or similar? or maybe 3D modeling?

    remember, the eeepc that got this started, and the olpc fame it tried to capitalize on, was not about having some media workstation in the backpack, it was about giving kids a gateway to the world.

    note the eeepc ads, it was about mother and child, teen in the park, theme being a lite and affordable computer with net connecting you could bring anywhere to see and read things.

    that people confuse it with the ulta-portables that dell and others have been pushing at the corp and mobile pro-sumer market is a flaw of marketing, one that asus was very clear about, but latter have missed fully.

  7. Virtuous

    10/16/2009 at 3:52 am

    Manufacturers need to stop whinning about netbooks. No one is forcing them to sell netbooks. Sony sells netbooks, but not cheap ones. Apple doesn’t sell netbooks.

  8. Techni

    10/18/2009 at 4:06 am


    I’m a UMPC user, my primary one has a 5 inch screen, 1 GB of RAM, and only an 800 MHz processor.

    And it works great! People are spoiled. Don’t run photoshop on a netbook and you’ll be fine!

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