Corporate Eye

Brand Name Challenged Microsoft Cries ‘It’s Not a Netbook”

netbookWindows 7, Windows 8 — Microsoft is known for branding its products with nondescript, meaningless names.  Now, Microsoft is rebranding the netbook computer using it’s oh so boring brand naming strategy.  Ready for this one?  Here goes:

At the Computex event in Taipei, Microsoft announced that netbooks will now be called “low cost small notebook PCs”.  I’m reminded of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie “Kindergarten Cop” when he cries, “It’s not a tumor,” but in Microsoft’s case, the mantra is, “it’s not a netbook!”

Why is Microsoft renaming netbooks?  Because segmenting the market will differentiate machines that offer so much more than Internet access!  Although rumor has it Microsoft’s intentions have less to do with enhancing the features of netbooks to create something better than ever that consumers have been clamoring for as it does with trimming down the existing netbook by removing Windows Starter Edition from them.  Either way, it’s one more notch on the belt of confusion for Microsoft and its brand strategy.

Here’s an idea for Microsoft — how about focusing on making the products they already have actually work the way they’re supposed to?  I’m just saying.

How do the new “low cost small notebook PCs” fit into the existing marketplace, and how do you know exactly what you’re buying or what you already have in your hands?  Check out the hilarious netbook lexicon flow chart courtesy of The Register.  

If that isn’t evidence of consumer confusion, I don’t know what is.  There is something to be said for simple branding strategies.

Your thoughts?  If it looks like a netbook and smells like a netbook, is it a netbook?

Image: Flickr

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.

I still can’t understand why Microsoft should care what it’s called. Many of the netbooks or ULPCs can run a Windows OS, so what’s the difference. The flowchart you mentioned was hilarious, especially the last part where they poked fun at Prince’s former symbol/name.

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