What's this? Michael Dell, CEO of one of the market-leading sellers of netbooks ... isn't recommending netbooks?
"We see a fair amount of customers not really being that satisfied with the smaller screen and the lower performance, unless it's like a secondary machine or it's a very first machine and the expectations are low," Dell's
Interestingly, this isn't just observation. Dell has specific criteria for how he wants his company to be marketing netbooks:
As a replacement machine for an experienced user, it's not what we'd recommend. It's not a good experience, and we don't see users very happy with those. [Emphasis added.]
Journalists and analysts reporting on Dell's comments expressed surprise at his take, especially in light of new research suggesting that netbooks are catching on with consumers. Color me among the indifferent.
Of course Dell doesn't want to sell netbooks if he doesn't have to. Look at the numbers: Average selling prices fell 29% in the second quarter, 10 percentage points more than the portable-PC industry average. Not a good sign, especially when Dell's net margin already hovers below 4%.
So Dell has good reason to criticize the form factor, even as it generates sales for his company. Sales aren't what matters most; profits and cash flow are the twin engines that deliver sustained growth. Netbooks, for now, don't offer much fuel.
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