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Portables Hardware Linux

Who Killed the Netbook? 398

Posted by timothy
from the mr-brin-in-the-parlor-with-a-tablet dept.
itwbennett writes "Netbooks died the death of a thousand cuts and there were conspirators aplenty with motive, weapons and opportunity. Was the unpopularity of Linux to blame? What about Microsoft and its efforts to kill XP? Ever smarter smartphones certainly played a role, as did the rise of the App Store, and lighter full-featured notebooks. Or maybe it was just that the American consumer wasn't going to be satisfied with technology designed for third-world use. 'In late 2005, the only computer found for $100 was stolen, was dead, or was ancient enough to require Windows 95. A real and functional computer for $100 was a dream, but also made people wonder what sacrifices might need to be made to offer such a comparatively inexpensive machine,' writes Tom Henderson, in an in-depth look at what contributed to the netbook's demise." Before solving the murder mystery, it's worth considering whether the netbook is actually dead.
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Who Killed the Netbook?

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  • I don't get it (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MichaelSmith (789609) on Friday June 24, 2011 @06:37AM (#36553224) Homepage Journal

    Shops near me have five or six netbooks on sale.

    • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by readthemall (1531267) on Friday June 24, 2011 @06:44AM (#36553276)
      Exactly, every time I go to a shop at least 1/3 of the portable computers sold are netbooks. With prices about half of the cheapest 14"+ laptops they are very good choice in a poor European country, and perhaps in many other parts of the world. And unlike spartphones, netbooks are real computers that can be actively used for many hours both for creating and consuming content.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Chrisq (894406)

        in a poor European country

        I think at the moment with the financial crisis that means every European country except Liechtenstein

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          We disagree.
          -Scandinavia

        • by IrquiM (471313)
          You don't follow European news much, do you? The fact that there are 6-7 countries that are struggeling, doesn't mean that all of them are. And Liechtenstein isn't that wealthy anyway. The two wealthiest ones are Luxembourg and Norway
    • Exactly and I still love my linux book.

      Touchpad - starting at least ~500.00
      Netbook - ~250.00 (ish)

      They are a different market (sorta). Personally I like buttons.

    • by MrHanky (141717)

      Exactly. It's not dead, the sales are just declining due to a saturated market (when everybody has got one, it's hard to find new buyers), with new competition from other gadgets as well. Fast forward a few years, and the same will have happened to the tablets.

    • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hey! (33014) on Friday June 24, 2011 @07:03AM (#36553454) Homepage Journal

      This is kind of like Washington politics. There's only only a limited number real, shoe leather reporters left who can actually find things out; most of the media is reporting on the opinions of other media. How many times can the popular IT press write a breathless article about yet *another* compact laptop which boasts long battery life and low price in exchange for delivering only modest but acceptable performance? The product category might be important, and earn money, but there won't be any new opinions to sell about it until some *real* reporter or technologist does some actual research.

      The popular trade press has always been this way. I once *resigned* because my company hired a boss whose sole source of knowledge was from reading IT trade magazines. The company crashed and burned shortly after, thanks to her, which shows you who the market for tech media that runs on the brain-farts of other tech media is.

      Now the *un*popular tech trade press, that's a different story. When I was an MIT student, one of the Course 2 (Mech E) guys in the dorm used to get *Compressed Air* magazine which (ironically named I guess) consistently had substantive, well written articles about compressed air technology. Even though it wasn't my field (I couldn't explain the difference between "stress" and "strain" without referring to Wikipedia, which didn't exist back then) I used to look forward to the next issue showing up in the dorm lounge.

      • *Compressed Air* magazine... I used to look forward to the next issue showing up in the dorm lounge.

        Forever alone O_o

    • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mcgrew (92797) * on Friday June 24, 2011 @07:04AM (#36553462) Homepage Journal

      Exactly. This is pure unadulterated BS. To quote Mark Twain, "reports of my death are greatly exaggerated". My question is, why does anybody think the netbook is dead? I've bought two in the last year, the second to replace the first that was stolen. The second was stolen too, and I plan on replacing it as well. When the first netbook was stolen they took my notebook, too, I won't be replacing it. Notebooks are just too big for my purposes, and too expensive to risk theft or damage, but a netbook is small enough to take anywhere, and cheap enough to replace if it's damaged or stolen.

      IMO the netbook's only drawback is the lack of an optical drive, but it's easy enough to move the data to a larger computer with a network or thumb drive.

      Tablets would be nice if you could attach a keyboard and mouse and had some sort of stand to place them vertically.

      • My question is, why does anybody think the netbook is dead?

        For one thing, less brick-and-mortar floor space in Best Buy and Office Depot devoted to them and more to Apple's iPad. In this market segment, floor space is important because shopping online often means that one ends up stuck with a product that's unusably unergonomic.

        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          I don't know about that. At my local electronics store (futureshop, bestbuy, i'm in Canada), sure the iPad has the prime spot at the end of the isle, but since all models are basically identical save for storage space, they only need one display model and hence almost no floor space. However there's an entire aisle or two exclusively for netbooks. Probably at least 10 models to choose from, ranging all the way from $230 all the way to $500. If you count the 13 inch and under laptops, there's even a bigg
        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          Less brick and mortor space isn't "dead". Dead would be NO brick and mortor space. And when I bought my first netbook there was only a single model at the WalMart I bought it from, the second there were two.

          Yes, I agree that floor space is important. You might have an argument saying the netbook is dying, but it's certainly not dead.

          This makes me think of the opening scene in Holy Grail, "Bring out your dead! Bring out your dead!"

          • by tepples (727027)

            Less brick and mortor space isn't "dead". Dead would be NO brick and mortor space.

            You have a point. In that case, PDAs sold to the general public without a cellular voice and data contract are dead.

      • I've bought two in the last year, the second to replace the first that was stolen. The second was stolen too

        Geez man. To lose one could be called carelessness....

      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        why does anybody think the netbook is dead?

        Because Netcraft confirms it!

        • by ifrag (984323)
          Exactly the data point I was looking for. Netcraft confirmation ought to be enough for anyone.
  • by vawwyakr (1992390) on Friday June 24, 2011 @06:45AM (#36553290)
    You would think that Steve Jobs is the second coming from the way they fawn over anything that comes out of Apple right now. The iPad is a neat device but in the eyes of the people making reports about it, it has already replaced all computers in every household. It seems like there isn't a day that goes by that some new Apple story goes up on CNN.com even if the new story is just a rehash of an old story. It's all about proportion even when netbooks were at their biggest it was something just barely talked about and many people would have no idea what you were talking about if you said the word "netbook" while there's hardly a english speaking US citizen who doesn't know what an iPad is.
    • by leonbev (111395) on Friday June 24, 2011 @07:02AM (#36553438) Journal

      In other words, netbooks "died" because nobody was spending millions of dollars on advertising and PR trying to convince people that they are still a better alternative to tablets.

      Which is sad, because netbooks can still be more useful than tablets depending on what application you're using. The amount of business software available for tablets like the iPad still isn't all that great, and it's a pain in the ass to type anything lengthy on the touch screen.

      But, hey, if all you want to do is surf the web and watch a few movies, and tablets are great at that.

      • So are netbooks and for half the price. They just don't have an silver coloured fruit on the back.

        • I have both a netbook and an iPad, the latter is much better for browsing and watching movies. Instant on, much quicker to navigate to your media, screen feels bigger because you can comfortably hold it up closer to your face. YMMV.

      • by Bigbutt (65939)

        Which it seems is all most people really want to do. What are you going to do? :shrug:

        [John]

  • by bartyboy (99076) on Friday June 24, 2011 @06:45AM (#36553296)

    Tablets became the new thing to have. Demand for netbooks dropped and so did prices. Netbooks that were selling for $300 are selling for $200, so manufacturers are moving to producing tablets, which have higher profit margins. It's not rocket science, just simple economics.

  • You can run Windows XP (fairly well) on a P2. Windows 7 runs just fine on a P4. I don't know what this retard is talking about $100 desktops or laptops only running Windows 95. You can get a P4 desktop or laptop for $100 or less these days.
    • by leathered (780018)

      You're right in that for most people, the processor speed doesn't matter. Quantity and speed of RAM, HD density and rotation speed and graphics performance have far more influence on how the user perceives the speed of a system. Sadly Intel are still brainwashing people into thinking they need the latest and greatest Core iWhatever for browsing Facebook.

      Dell's advertising also used to play heavily on this when they were deeply wedded with Intel. I remember when the 3 GHz P4s first came out. Dell would offer

    • The article stated, many times, that he was stating the prices at the times the XO and Eee first came out.

      At that time, the P4 was a high spec new system, maybe $2500. To get something for a hundred, you'd have to find an old 686 or something, and 95 would have been the os.

      • by kenh (9056)

        The XO came out with their prototype in 2005, a Dell dimension 8400 w/ P4 CPU, 1 Gig RAM, DVD, Windows XP Pro, MS Office, and a 19" flat panel was $1,000 in may, 2005. $500 P4 PCs weren't that unusual then either, and the XO actually came out at about $200-250/each.

      • by bhtooefr (649901)

        OLPC XO-1 full-scale production started in November 2007. Eee 701 launched October 2007.

        So, a high-spec new system was a Core 2 Duo or even a Core 2 Quad, by then.

        A $100 PC was well into Pentium III territory, for a desktop, and may have even shipped with XP, if you got lucky and got a late P3 system.

  • They aren't dead. (Score:5, Informative)

    by the_raptor (652941) on Friday June 24, 2011 @06:48AM (#36553314)

    There are more models of netbooks now then during the height of the netbook craze. What has died is Linux powered netbooks with cheap SSDs. From retailer reports a lot of people who bought netbooks weren't satisfied with Linux and weren't satisfied with the storage of the cheap SSDs. So now days you have cheap Windows netbooks with conventional spinning disc drives, and very expensive small laptops with expensive SSDs.

    To me the whole appeal of the netbook was something small and light that I could chuck in my backpack and not worry about, which doesn't work with a spinning disc HDD (when I worked in computer repair 90% of laptop issues were damaged HDDs. A certain brand of laptops we sold had a MTBF of its drives of probably 3 months in actual real world usage).

    • mod parent up.

      The shape of the netbook has changed, what we knew may be gone. Great point.

    • by Andy Dodd (701)

      Laptop hard drives are fairly rugged - to the point where I've taken my Eee 1000HE all over the place using a wide variety of methods for carrying/storing it and never had a hard drive problem.

    • by squizzar (1031726)

      I got a Dell inspiron 300m (12") at Uni for a pretty good price, and treated it just like you say. Admittedly it's a bit of Grandpa's broom now as pretty much everything but the case has been replaced at some point, but that was after a few years of abuse. The HDD was fine up until about a year ago when I had a message pop up (in Ubuntu - why doesn't Windows have SMART monitoring by default) saying that the drive might be on the way out.

      Unfortunately any similar replacements are quite expensive. If I'd s

      • by kenh (9056)

        Dell Vostro V13 - I got mine for $450 w/ 2 gigs RAM and 500 Gig HD brand-new from Dell - 13" screen, just over 3 pounds, full-size keyboard, and a built-in WWAN card. I upped the RAM to 4 Gigs for $35 and now my ULV dual core CPU hums along nicely. I also swapped an SSD for the SATA HD, but that was a personal preference. Battery life could be better, but with my needs 3-4 hours is fine. Oh, it's about 1/2" thick...

    • I agree. I'll get to the MacBook Air in a minute. But first, I have the following: Droid X running Cyanogen, eMachine Netbook running Ubuntu 11.04, and a Dell desktop running Windows 7 (my newest edition).

      The problem I see is that tablets are trying to replace the Netbook (not so much the notebook, which is more of a replacement for desktops). The tablet is not appealing to me, because there really is no gap to fill between my Droid X and my Netbook. My netbook, a 1Ghz Atom with a 250GB HDD (not SSD) is

      • This same lack of gap is the reason your average power user who must choose between a MacBook Air and an iPad will automatically go with the MacBook (if you were to remove cost from the equation).

        But cost isn't removed from the equation so this argument is meaningless. And who cares if the iPad isn't for "power users"? It's like saying plastic forks have no use for the "power eater" and so shouldn't be used.

        I'm not saying I'm against tablets, or necessarily for netbooks. They just make more sense to someone like me. ...
        That's the "sweet spot". But, tablet prices are so expensive, that only early adopters and those with large disposable incomes are really taking too them.

        Says the guy that just advocated the Air over a much less expensive iPad (which is available sans wireless data plan). So the iPad isn't for "power users" like you, so what, why preach about it? You're trying to justify your opinion in declaring Tablets are not worth using, so no one should us

      • by metlin (258108)

        It puts the iPad in the position of the MacBook Air, which is to say that it will have a low market saturation, unlike the iPhone.

        As someone who owns not one but two MacBook Airs (and an iPad), I think the MBA is great for a certain target demographic.

        I'm a consultant and an entrepreneur, and I travel a lot. In the past couple of years, I've probably flown around 350,000 miles (at least).

        I love the MacBook Air because it's light and easy to carry. Yes, the battery life is a pain, but when it comes to sheer

    • I just got a Genesi Efika, which is an 800MHz ARM Cortex A8 CPU running Ubuntu. The software stack is an embarrassment. Canonical were apparently paid to port Ubuntu to it, but half of the standard system apps don't fit properly onto the screen. If Canonical is happy shipping that, then they're a company that I'm going to make damn sure I never do business with. The 'Linux' bit is no worse than Linux on any other architecture, but the stuff on top is a disaster.
  • Netbooks are dead? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DiSKiLLeR (17651) on Friday June 24, 2011 @06:50AM (#36553322) Homepage Journal

    I see them everywhere in Australia and New Zealand.

    Every computer store carries a bunch of them... I own one, and absolutely love it, and use it along side my 17" Alienware all the time.

    Smartphones are great, and i've had an iPhone 3G since it came out and now an iPhone 4.... but it still can't be used for real work running real apps like a netbook.

    The iPhone/iPad and other tablets are just for consuming media, not real work. Ultra portables like my netbook are a godsend when I need to be mobile around a large office or in the datacenter.

  • The netbook is not dead, although manufacturers are trying to kill them because the profit margin is thinner than they would like. Personally, I think the netbook market would be significantly bigger, except for the fact that nobody seems to want to make dirt cheap one. I firmly believe that if a manufacturer were willing to make a sub $200 netbook with a 7-9 inch screen, they would develop a solid following. They would need to be perfectly upfront in their marketing that this was not a laptop replacement.
    • Make that a 10-12 inch screen. The earlier screen were really too darned small.

      • Make that a 10-12 inch screen. The earlier screen were really too darned small.

        Then it is a cheap, small laptop. At that size, there is no way that consumers are going to perceive it as a different category of device from a laptop. In which case, a significant number of people are going to buy it thinking that it is a laptop substitute and be angry that it is underpowered (and doesn't run Windows, because I don't see how you can reach the price point--under $200--and run Windows).

  • Its the price (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Osgeld (1900440) on Friday June 24, 2011 @06:54AM (#36553350)

    ok, in 2011 show me a netbook for 100$ that is not used, stolen, older than dirt and beat up, or one of those useless CE devices.

    The price is what is killing them, they have not changed stats much if at all and after years on the market they have hit an artificially invoked 279$ price point that never seems to drift much. then the question becomes "well do I spend 300$ on a gimpy screen, gimpy keyboard, gimpy ram, video cpu for what turns out to be a darn near 4 year old computer? or do I just go ahead and get that dual core gateway for 50 bucks more

    • Don't forget size and weight. If you routinely walk around carrying lots of other stuff, suddenly every inch and pound matters. I know people who bought netbooks specifically for that reason. Performance is largely irrelevant when you're doing casual or office work.

      • by Osgeld (1900440)

        I dont forget size and weight but that argument has been paper thin since day one, and is even thinner with tablets, yea OK a small amount of netbook users somehow cant find a desk terminal in a data center and praise the fact they can work in excel in the park, but honestly most people dont give a shit... they just want a cheap notebook

        • No it hasn't. Anyone who travels as part of their job will be much happier carrying a 1kg device than a 3kg device. Tablets don't fit into this equation because doing a lot of typing on a tablet is a pain in the ass. There's no way I'd carry this 17" monster any further than the lounge, but my 11" netbook travels too and from work with me every day and I do work while travelling.

          • by Osgeld (1900440)

            ok fine netbooks are portable gold star to you, you win

            now what the fuck does this have to do with my 100$ argument? for what they are they are artificially priced 4 year old computer, you can buy the same thin in notebook form factor for 60 bucks used on ebay all day long, that's what is killing them, the artificial price

            and omg grow up, if you think 3kg is heavy go to the freakin gym and quit sitting on your mobile ass in front of the netbook all day

            • by c.r.o.c.o (123083)

              I wasn't going to reply, and to a large extent I agree with you. Netbooks have had their prices artificially kept high for too long given the technology that goes into them.

              But you had to make this statement:

              and omg grow up, if you think 3kg is heavy go to the freakin gym and quit sitting on your mobile ass in front of the netbook all day

              I can only guess you don't travel much by airplane, where your main luggage is limited to 20kg and your carry-on is limited to 10kg. Most airlines allow the carry-on plus a

  • Well... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by atomicbutterfly (1979388) on Friday June 24, 2011 @06:54AM (#36553352)

    The shitty and hacked-up Linux 'distros' which appeared on the first netbooks certainly didn't help. Buggy, slow and lacking in functionality when compared to a clean install of something like Ubuntu. It's almost as if they wanted the bloody things to fail...

    • It's not just netbooks, I've seen quite a few desktops that came with absolute rubbish distros.

  • Tablet and smartphones popularity, with all their disadvantages, showed that "something" was missing. And i'd say that was touchscreen and availability of lots of cheap apps. Forcing Windows in them, making that either were more expensive, or slower, or with outdated OS, were a suicidal move. Even the few that had touchscreen (or being windows tablets directly) with a desktop not meant for touchscreen were a waste. I have my hopes on netvertibles with Android 3.x/Meego or even "normal" linux distribution wi
  • It's just pining for the fjords!

    But seriously, I haven't seen any decrease in popularity for netbooks. Tablets and Netbooks arn't even in the same market. Tablets are primarily consumption devices that lets you get occasional work done, and netbooks are essentially cheap disposable ultra-compact computers that you can still actively do work on. You can still do word processing and other office work relatively easily on a netbook. Tablets are outstanding when you want to just curl up on the couch and surf th

  • I don't think netbooks are dead yet but at least the development in the past few years has disappointed me a little bit. I was hoping and looking for ultra-cheap ( $200, possibly even below $100), light and slow devices with non-glare screens. Instead "netbooks" basically evolved into small laptops with glare screens (=unusable for anyone who wants to seriously write with them outside). They are still in the lower price categories but have certainly not become the really inexpensive, disposable devices many

  • by Shivetya (243324) on Friday June 24, 2011 @06:59AM (#36553412) Homepage Journal

    The current rage with tablets is probably going to see the same ascendance and then drop of in numbers as the next attempt to fill the need arises. Netbooks for me were too crammed in screen space to be truly useful. Tablets are just to interface locked. By that I mean I need to type and typing for any period of time on a glass face just isn't enjoyable. So I figure they will merge eventually. Most everyone I know has a BT keyboard for their iPad; by most everyone I know I mean those who bring them to work; because while you can do a lot with them creating new content is not one of the things that is easy.

    So touch screen netbooks are most likely next. Combine the best features of both. Until you can get accurate voice entry of text I don't see an easy way to overcome the need to enter data of that form and the glass surface is not conducive to that.

    What gets me about tablets is that I have yet to find one that is semi useful outdoors. Solve that and then you will have something. Right now they are geek toys which thousands of geeks are doing their best to come up with applications to justify their fascination. Too many adaptations come across as a kludge. That is not to say there are not some unique and truly enjoyable apps, its just saying that tablets are still too much of a compromise as netbooks were.

    So next gen - something along the lines of a touch screen enabled MBA. The size is right and the functionality is much higher than a tablet or netbook by themselves.

    • So touch screen netbooks are most likely next. Combine the best features of both.

      Check out the Asus Transformer. For $550, it's a 16 GB Android tablet with a keyboard/trackpad that attaches to it and folds over the entire screen. (Note that the keyboard is a separate piece than the tablet proper, and $550 is the cost for both pieces together.)

      • by tepples (727027)

        Check out the Asus Transformer. For $550, it's a 16 GB Android tablet with a keyboard

        Can I program on it? If not, it might be useful for some people but not for me. I do a lot of programming on my 10" netbook while commuting on the bus.

  • I snagged a couple of nice Samsung netbooks for $250 recently. These are great little boxes, with more than enough oomph for Linux Mint and 6 hours of battery life. They do everything an iPad does for 1/2 the cost.

    Maybe we don't need a $100 price-point, but even $175 would be a game-changer. When you add in the cost of a binder cover and a bluetooth keyboard, the cost of an iPad starts looking pretty ridiculous.

  • As a commuter, I see plenty of netbooks. I never had the impression that they were going away. Heck, even Apple makes netbooks now. Even seen the "new" MacBook Air? It comes in 11 and 13 inch models.
  • To me it looks like they'll still keep their market niche.

    I'm currently looking into buying one myself because I want a larger PMP replacement to watch movies during train rides and maybe play the occasional game (DOSBox nostalgia). For that kind of stuff a netbook with a 300+ GB HDD is the perfect choice and I can simply swap battery packs during longer trips.
    Certainly better than having to take my laptop on trips where I don't really need such a powerful CPU.

  • I can get a Netbook with a wimpy Atom processor, 1GB of RAM and a little, cute hard drive at the local Best Buy / Fry's / Wherever for $259. I can get this week's on-sale full size laptop with a dual core 64 bit processor 3GB of RAM, and 300 or 500GB of storage for $329. To make the netbook useful, I'll need to add memory, so after a $49 upgrade, I'm at $308 anyway... so for $21 more I get a useful computer. It doesn't make sense to buy the netbook.
    • Until you have to carry it around with you.

    • by kenh (9056)

      It is also much larger, the CPU isn't that much better, and weighs as much as twice the price of the netbook.

      The netbook is a trade-off, but you compared the netbook to a laptop on a performance basis - the netbook isn't trying to compete on a performance basis, it is trying to compete on portability, and at half the size and weight, the netbook delivers.

  • Is a 1280x800 resolution screen - perhaps 11 inch size.
  • I love my netbook, it lets me actually do work instead of just being able to playing angry birds. I can type out a word document without getting my screen all greasy and developing and RSI.
  • OK, ready for it?

    The same people who killed the mainframe.

  • The only advantage netbooks currently have is that they have a keyboard for long text entries (e.g. word processing).
    Technology changes. Tablets (like the iPad & Samsung Tab 10.1) have screens that are nicer than most netbooks and no hard drives, have longer battery life, almost 100% up-time, and are easier to use. Since most people only used their netbooks for social media and web browsing why bother with the complication of an actual PC.
    Netbooks also made lousy PCs. Screens are too small, Too littl

    • by Arlet (29997)

      My netbook also has an ethernet port, 3 USB ports, and a slot for an SD card. I use all of those on a regular basis.

      I use it for programming, and for that purpose, it works a lot better than a tablet. It's also much easier to carry around in a back pack than a full size laptop, while offering almost the same usability.

  • I sniffed you on the wireless running Firefox 2
    Downloading porn that suited you
    I could install Fedora on my netbook too

    Oh-a oh

    Then the iPod delivered a symphony
    They marketed this crappy technology
    But Jobs put the kebosh on porn, you see

    Oh-a oh

    I saw your iPhone
    Oh-a oh

    What did you tell them?
    iOS killed the netbook star
    iOS killed the netbook star

    The iPad came and broke your heart
    Oh-a-a-a oh

    And now we surf in an abandoned studio
    We watch some porn and it seems so long ago
    And you remember the cumshots used to go

    Oh

  • Was the unpopularity of Linux to blame?

    No, it's just the people still want to use installed software. Despite popular belief, there is more to using a computer than the Web.

  • Netbooks never really were the solution people wanted because there still not usable casually. There still just a small notebook that really needs to be on a stable flat surface. To small for a home computer since a few dollars more will get you a desktop with a nice big screen and not convenient enough on the go. They were just a stopgap till the iPad.

  • DAS BUNKER, Redmond, Friday (MSBBC) — Cheap netbooks are too limited and no-one will want them any more, say high-ticket vendors at the mere 103% increase in netbook sales in 2009 over 2008.

    The small, portable computers sold in stupendous numbers in 2009, but industry watchers have been convinced by Microsoft and Intel to say that their popularity is waning. “No-one is buying a 10-inch netbook that costs £500 and runs Windows 7,” said Stuart Miles of Pocket Unit. “So everyone will go back to expensive iPhones and full-sized laptops, any day now. This ‘internet’ thing is just a fad too.”

    What people are looking for now, he believes, is a machine that can keep up with the demands of contemporary web users. A small netbook running Windows 7 Dumbass Edition, which runs up to three applications at a time and holds your data hostage until you cough up eighty quid to run a fourth, is “thoroughly inadequate” to the task. “Linux, of course, doesn’t exist, wasn’t the impetus for cheap netbooks and didn’t cripple Microsoft’s bottom line for the last three years by providing actual competition for the first time in decades. So it’s not like it can do twice as much in half the space.”

    Ian Drew, spokesman for chip designer ARM Holdings, also believes netbooks are in for a shake-up. “Apparently, netbooks that weigh nothing, run twice as fast and have an all-day battery but don’t run Windows are a problem for ARM, not for Microsoft,” he said, lighting a cigar off a fifty-pound note.

    Mr Miles believes tablets will take up the mantle from the netbook. “If we carefully define tablets as ‘not netbooks,’ even though they’re made by the same companies with the same technology running the same software, we can claim the netbook is dead even though people are suddenly realising how stupidly huge, unwieldy and heavy even a fourteen-inch laptop is. It’s all about picking your terms rather than, e.g., selling what people actually want instead of what you’d like them to want. Also, if you whack in a 3G modem it’s suddenly a phone instead, and never mind the Mini 9.”

    “Clap your hands if you don’t believe in netbooks,” said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. “Marketers! Marketers! Marketers! Marketers!”

    Photo: Netbook, circa 1982 [newstechnica.com].

  • I never believed in the idea.

    1. People usually, ladies especially, carry a bag that is almost A4 dimensions, or at least A3. One can thus argue that the factor for portable computers is not width and depth but weight and height(thickness).

    2. Straining your eyes to distinguish, perceive and interpret information on a smaller screen is not really fun. People prefer bigger screens, they just don't like all the extra weight and dimensions that come with it. Add to this the fact that we still don't have enough f

  • by blind biker (1066130) on Friday June 24, 2011 @07:45AM (#36553814) Journal

    Both of my netbooks seem to be alive and kicking. Oh, I get it, "dead" as in, I cannot [www.asus.fi] buy [acer.com] any [hp.com] netbooks! [msimobile.com]

    Yeah, it's "dead".

  • what you called netbooks transformed into mini laptops. whereas they had 8 gb flash or whatever memory once, now they have hard disks. 1-2 generations before the form factor mine has (acer's aspire) had 256 mb ram, 8 gb ssd or something.

    my acer aspire has 1 gb ram, 160 gb hard disk. it is the same size. and runs windows xp. it is actually quite capable, to the extent that using notepad++ , winscp, adobe photoshop cs 3 etc, i am able to do web development on it.

    netbooks not dead. they are just laptops
  • Price (Score:5, Insightful)

    by whisper_jeff (680366) on Friday June 24, 2011 @07:56AM (#36553932)
    imho, netbooks died when their price went above $300. The entire point of a netbook is it's a computer that is powerful enough to do email, web browsing, word processing and other simple tasks. It's not designed to do video gaming; it's not designed to splice together your home movie; it's not designed to compose a masterpiece of artwork in Photoshop. It's designed to be functional for basic day-to-day use as cheaply as possible. Computer makers, however, got it in their heads that people want teh big numberz!! They want a more powerful processor and bigger screen and ... oh, wait. That's not a netbook any more. It's an underpowered laptop.

    A laptop is one thing and it fills a need. A netbook, when built properly, is another thing and fills a separate need. The key thing that separates them is price (and thus performance). In general, if a netbook is priced over $300, it isn't a netbook - it's now an underpowered laptop.

    What killed the netbook? Computer makers suddenly thinking people wanted the netbook to be more than it is and pushing the price above $300.

    (As a side note, yet, Microsoft pushing XP onto netbooks, and thus pushing the system requirements up thereby pushing the price up, certainly played a part in it.)

    People claiming that tablets (namely the iPad) killed the netbook are failing to realize that the netbook was dead before the iPad came along...
    • Quick note - my commentary about price is Canadian dollars. Adjust prices appropriately for your local region. :)
  • Who Killed the Electric Car? [wikipedia.org] is a 2006 documentary film that explores the creation, limited commercialization, and subsequent destruction of the battery electric vehicle in the United States, specifically the General Motors EV1 of the mid 1990s.

    In the end it was a combination of everyone. Those who wanted a cheaply made device which had a good profit margin and those who wanted a cheaper than laptop device with a small form factor that didn't sacrifice laptop capabilities. Pretty much a no brainer on why

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