Analysts pan netbooks in enterprise, but SMB use is rising

Are ready for productive use in large enterprises? Analysts say no. They might be okay for small businesses, but netbooks aren't ready for the demanding work of big business.

"I think acceptance in the enterprise is very small," IDC analyst Bob O'Donnell told The Standard. "In fact, we don't even track that. We do believe about 7% of netbooks are going into small business. I don't know of any companies standardizing on them."

Gartner predicts that less than 1 percent of netbooks sold globally over the next two years will be shipped to businesses.

Gartner analyst Mika Kitigawa said netbooks aren't acceptable to enterprise-size companies. "They're made cheaply to cut costs, so you're looking at them breaking one or two years down the road. The hinges aren't are strong and the hard drives don't have head-parking protection. Also, most have Windows XP Home or Linux. Upgrading to Windows XP costs more money."

Anecdotally, The Standard found several small business owners who are happy with their netbooks, but only for light work or travel, as analysts predicted. Enterprises were less sure about adoption, citing comfort and power as key concerns.

Dr. John Halamka, CIO of the CareGroup Health System in Boston, told The Standard he was considering the Dell Mini 9 for thin-client computing such as Web- and Citrix-based applications if "the keyboard and screen are large enough." His company has bought one Mini 9, which will undergo six weeks of testing by various teams.