You can continue to deride netbooks as underpowered toys if you like, and I agree with many of my fellow analysts that they will account for a niche in overall PC shipments this year, but there’s no doubt that netbooks are challenging the PC status quo in many ways — “retro” and alternative operating systems, newcomer brands such as Sylvania, and interesting distribution potential, such as via cellular operators.
Dell is definitely positioning these products in an advantageous way by offering its Inspiron Mini for $99 with purchase of a select other PC, reinforcing the message that this is a sort of computing peripheral. (Dell has offered similar promotions on monitors and printers in the past.) It’s also a fresh arrow for the company to tuck into in its challenged upsell quiver. Of course, I’ve argued previously that the lower-cost Linux configuration lives up to that designation better.