A leading US market research company has found that many consumers are still confused about the difference between netbook and notebook computers, with 60 per cent of respondents claiming they purchased a netbook thinking it had the same functionality as a notebook.

In its latest report titled ‘Netbooks II: A Closer Look’, The NPD Group has discovered that US consumer confusion is very high in the category due to lack of education about the differences in performance.

The findings highlighted that 60 per cent of consumers who purchased a netbook instead of a notebook thought their netbook would have the same functionality as notebooks, this confusion has in turn lead to dissatisfaction with the product.

“That confusion about functionality is leading to some dissatisfaction. Only 58 per cent of consumers who bought a netbook instead of a notebook said they were satisfied with their purchase, compared to 70 per cent of consumers who planned on buying a netbook from the start,’ said The NPD Group in a statement.

The report also found that among the key target demographic for netbooks (18 to 24 year olds), 65 per cent of respondents said they had expected better performance and only 27 per cent thought they performed better than expected.

Some of the positive news to come out of the findings was that consumers are very happy with the portability of their netbook and 60 per cent attributed it as the main reason for purchase.

But in some surprising news, the report found that 60 per cent of netbook buyers have never taken the device outside of their home, thus negating the need for the extra portability.

Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD, commented that retailers must ensure consumers are buying PCs for the right reasons.

“We need to make sure consumers are buying a PC intended for what they plan to do with it,” he said.

“There is a serious risk of cannibalisation in the notebook market that could cause real threat to netbooks’ success.”

He also emphasised that it is retailer’s responsibility to ensure consumers aren’t confused about their purchase.

“Retailers and manufacturers can’t put too much emphasis on PC-like capabilities and general features that could convince consumers that a netbook is a replacement for a notebook,” he said.

“Instead, they should be marketing mobility, portability, and the need for a companion PC to ensure consumers know what they are buying and are satisfied with their purchase.”

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