Is the Netbook Dead?

No. In eclipse maybe, but not dead.

From the San Jose Mercury-News:

Tablet computers will outsell netbooks in the United States by 2012, according to a report issued Thursday by Forrester Research, which also predicted that nearly one in four personal computers sold to U.S. consumers will be tablets by 2015.

The report echoes earlier projections from other leading research firms, which have suggested that sales are beginning to slow for netbooks, also known as mini-notebooks or mini-notes. Meanwhile, Apple has reported selling 2 million iPads in the first two months since the product was introduced.

Apple seems to have turned tablets into the hot new thing, after computer manufacturers spent almost a decade trying to entice the public into buying them.

They are certainly the new kid on the block and are attracting all the attention.

But I don’t think netbooks will disappear.

Tablets are great for persons who are looking for lightweight, small footprint output machines. Netbooks, though, are also input machines, because they have real physical keyboards.

For anyone who knows how to type, no software touch-screen keyboard can replace a physical one.

Tablets will be welcome for those who primarily want to look at stuff on the computer screen.

However, for those who want a truly interactive computing experience, netbooks will continue to have a market amongst persons wanting a light, small form-factor, highly portable device.

Those who think of netbooks as devices only for surfing the web at the over-priced national coffee bar at the corner miss the point (and have likely not used a other than casually). Netbooks are miniature computers with many of the capabilities of full-sized boxes.

For example (these are all things I have done),

  • I can easily create and edit a blog post on my netbook–not quite as easily as on a laptop, because the keyboard is smaller and some of the keys located differently than on a standard keyboard–but, still, easily; indeed, I do so frequently.
  • I can quickly and easily respond to posts at Linux Questions dot org, including hyperlinks, blockquotes, and all that other good forum stuff.
  • I can write emails longer than fifty words in fewer than five minutes using eight fingers, not just one or two.
  • I can edit images with the GIMP and videos with AVIDEMUX.
  • I can edit documents of all types with Open Office.
  • I can add any application that I wish to that runs on Linux (since I have a Linux netbook); there is no gatekeeper telling me what I can do with the box.

And all this with the convenience of a mouse and keyboard. (There’s a built-in trackpad, but I loathe trackpads, always have.)

Furthermore, at least for now, netbooks, even first-generation netbooks, have more capacity for peripherals than do iPads (I’ll focus on iPads because they are getting all the press). I can connect my netbook to any USB device or to a wired network (as well as a wireless one) and print from it to my networked printer, etc. etc. etc.

So, although I think it’s highly plausible that tablets will outpace netbooks in the market place, I think it most unlikely that netbooks are dead. The lesser ones will fade away, but the others will find a solid market niche for some time to come.

(Visited 16 times, 1 visits today)