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Netbooks, R.I.P.

It’s one of the hottest selling items on the market today, even though in Indonesia market. While the Vendors are struggling to sell PC’s, it’s the one category that has been selling consistently in Amazon’s top ten list of technology purchases. Yes I’m talking about the phenomenon called the netbook.

Let's look at history. At the end of 2007 a netbook had about a 7-inch screen, a tiny keyboard, about 4GB of storage, half a gig of RAM and no Windows OS (that Windows thing adds to price). Purists argued that the max screen size for a netbook was 7-inches. Fast forward to today: that same price point will deliver you a 10-inch screen or so, a gig of RAM and perhaps 160GB of storage. It also gets you a copy of Windows for the most part. By year's end, we'll see vendors offering 12-inch screens, full keyboards, and 300GB of storage. And they'll be called netbooks. But that doesn't matter, does it? Because that rose still smells the same -- no matter what we call it.
Sure, there are some folks who adopted netbooks as an additional PC or even a primary machine -- but the driver has consistently been price. Tiny, underpowered laptops have been around for more than a decade, but few people bought them because there was a premium price associated with them. As prices came down, capabilities

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"Tiny, underpowered laptops have been around for more than a decade, but few people bought them because there was a premium price associated with them."

increased and more folks bought them. But not as netbooks -- rather as laptop replacements. The proof? Look at the sales and return rates of Linux netbooks vs. Windows-based ones. The vast majority of folks want Windows. The reason? It's their laptop replacement. No one carries a netbook and a laptop.
The cellphone and laptop represent the core part of a user's mobile experience. With most consumers willing to carry two devices total, there's not a lot of room for 'tweener devices. That's one reason vendors have worked so hard to increase netbook capabilities. The more they increase, the more they can displace the laptop for more users. Of course there's a downside. Netbooks use less horsepower than many other laptops. They ship with Windows XP (at least for now) instead of the more expensive Vista. That's why Intel and Microsoft are working hard to constrain the specifications of whatever's called a netbook. Of course, that won't work: technology moves at its own pace and no vendor can control it. That's why when I can get a nice 12-inch screen, with a full keyboard, a few hundred gigs of storage and a lot of RAM. I won't care if it's called a netbook or a laptop.


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