Netbooks, R.I.P.

by Joey deVilla on June 24, 2009

netbooks_ripAnother guy who shares my belief that netbooks are a transitional category that will eventually get absorbed into what we consider to be notebook computer is Engadget’s Michael Gartenberg, who wrote in a recent post titled Netbooks, R.I.P.. Like me, he believes that netbooks are not a whole new category of computing device, but the smallest, cheapest end of the spectrum of devices we call “personal computers”:

While some perceive the netbook as a new product category — a class of device that’s never existed — I would have to beg to differ. A netbook is merely a laptop with the pivotal axis based on price first and foremost. In other words, "how much computer can I build for $300-500?" (which is about the average selling price of most netbooks).

Like me, he also believes that the kind of computer you can build on a netbook budget is encroaching on the territory owned by computers we consider to be in the “laptop” category:

At the end of 2007 a netbook (or laptop you could build for about $300-$500) 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?

And once more, like me, he believes that between the mobile phone and laptop, there exists the “Zone of Suck”:

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.

My hope is to eventually see the gap between phone and laptop vanish; where phone portability and laptop power meet and “phone” and “laptop” are just different aspects of the same device. I’d like to see the day when it’s a mobile phone when used on its own, but a laptop or even desktop when you plug it into a docking station with a keyboard and monitor. Now that’s a whole new category of machine, with a whole new category of uses.

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