Laptop has a good interview with MSI about their netbook the Wind.
It seems as though brick-and-mortar retailers have been hesitant to stock netbooks or have even ignored them, at least until now. Why do you think that is?
Retailers have been hesitant to bring netbooks into stores because at that moment they were afraid that the netbook category would eat at their notebook sales. They were also only selling the only available product from ASUS, and sales were only okay, and they struggled with return rates, especially of Linux systems. But now it has become more of a trend and these retailers just have to be in this business.
You mention the return rates being high. Has that been the case with the Wind as well?
We have done a lot of studies on the return rates and haven’t really talked about it much until now. Our internal research has shown that the return of netbooks is higher than regular notebooks, but the main cause of that is Linux. People would love to pay $299 or $399 but they don’t know what they get until they open the box. They start playing around with Linux and start realizing that it’s not what they are used to. They don’t want to spend time to learn it so they bring it back to the store. The return rate is at least four times higher for Linux netbooks than Windows XP netbooks.
Four times higher return rate is a concern for retailers. Perhaps they need to put out more demos in the stores. They do not give the rate. If it is tiny, who cares if it is four times higher? MSI still calls it a hit and they do not disparage GNU/Linux in the process. They do say they are looking for a smoother interface for their machines. Cool.
MSI says they sell about 200000 units a month. If half of them are GNU/Linux, we should have a party to celebrate. MSI is one of more than a dozen sellers of netbooks. They are all maxed out by the supply chain. That is millions of GNU/Linux desktops added each month. Is M$ going to support XP forever or is that other OS going to fork? The low-end machines will never run Vista II or III or IV but there will always be a low-end for the next billion PC users at least. Web stats we have seen for September show GNU/Linux stalled but these little netbooks are selling, just not in the USA.
“netbooks are dominating the notebook category on Amazon.com. And he’s right about that: the current list of Amazon’s top-selling notebooks is topped by two versions each of the Acer Aspire and Asus Eee; of the top 10, four are from Asus, three from Acer, one from MSI and two from Apple (AAPL).”
“Acer expects netbook sales to break 1 million worldwide this month and two million for the third quarter.”
A million a month. Two million a quarter? Perhaps that is the back-to-school stuff but it is fun. GNU/LInux usage is probably doubling every year because of this growth. We are likely at 10% already. Could 20% happen next year while M$ twiddles its thumbs?