The burgeoning netbook market is helping to drive Linux adoption around the world, according to new figures from Forrester Research.
The analyst firm's Netbooks are the Third PC Form Factor report suggests that netbooks have driven adoption of the open source operating system in ways that have not been achieved with either the PC or notebook markets.
"While Linux-based netbooks have not gained much consumer acceptance in the US, their success varies greatly by geographical market. In developing countries, Linux-based Eee PCs have fared better," said Forrester analyst J P Gownder.
"Even if a majority of netbooks run Windows, the minority that run Linux are the most successful non-Windows, non-Macintosh consumer PCs in the industry in terms of penetration."
Over a third of US households are investigating buying a netbook, according to the research, primarily for second or third computers, for use by children or to use exclusively on the go.
The good news for manufacturers is that the new segment is unlikely to encroach on the laptop market, as fewer than a quarter of those questioned said that they would consider buying a netbook as a replacement for a laptop.
Overall, laptop owners are the most interested in buying a netbook, followed by PC owners and non-PC owners. Barely a third of the 15 per cent of non-PC owners questioned were interested in a netbook, suggesting the existence of a hard core of consumers who do not want a PC at any price.
One of the key drivers is that netbooks are seen as ideal for mobile data use, while mobile phones are not. More than half of those questioned said that mobile phone screens are too small for mobile data use.
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