Throw the (Net)Book at Laptop Failures

Last month I started a toughbloggers discussion about a recent article that showed approximately 22 percent of business laptops require repair on an annual basis and, yet, people seem to view these high failure rates as acceptable.  Well, a new study by Squaretrade shows, once again, alarmingly high failure rates for notebooks and—not surprisingly— even higher ones for netbooks. 

The study found that nearly one-third of all laptops will fail within three years of purchase.  As found in the study, HP, Dell and Lenovo all had high failure rates, with HP having the highest rates of all nine manufacturers included in the study. Netbooks have the worst failure rate out of all notebook types, with an approximately 20 percent higher failure rate than more expensive laptops.

It’s understandable that, with the current economic environment, small business owners are looking to tighten their budgets in all aspects of business – IT included. Because they are considered mobile and inexpensive, some buyers see netbooks as an attractive option. Buying a $400 netbook might seem like a good idea when considering alternatives that are more expensive; however, it’s a short term fix that has significant impact on total cost of ownership. With such high failure rates on netbooks, it is reasonable to assume that near-term replacement, and the high cost associated with it, is inevitable.

Moreover, BusinessWeek columnist and Marks Group owner Gene Marks in his recent article described netbooks as being “too small, lack[ing] power” and a solution that makes “little sense for small business owners.” For these and other reasons, the expectations users hold for netbooks are shifting from that of a new primary computing form factor to being an auxiliary machine suitable for limited usage scenarios.

Figuring out the total life cycle cost of technology is vital for all organizations.  For small businesses, this does not only mean dollars spent or lost, but also the opportunity costs of technology failures.  In an era when we’re all being asked to do more with less, it’s time to throw the (net)book at these unacceptably high failure rates and demand more reliable technology.

Weighing these studies and determining the true costs of downtime can help clarify what the “reliability factor” means to you.  Do you know what your failure rates are? Have you tried to replace your laptop fleet with netbooks? Please share your experiences with us.