Apple: Netbooks still suck

tim-cookApple just released its quarterly earnings results. And despite the economy having been in the toilet for much of the quarter, Apple reported record profits of $1.21 billion. So it probably shouldn’t come as any surprise that Apple still isn’t interested in putting out one of those newfangled dirt cheap netbooks all the kids are talking about. Because despite countless pundits who claim that Apple will have to start pumping out lower costs machines if it wants to keep making money during a recession, the company is making money during a recession by selling premium products to customers who are willing to pay for them.

During the earnings call, Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook took yet another chance to let the world know that Apple is not developing a netbook. At least not one that looks anything like the netbooks flooding the market today.

Engadget quotes Cook saying that netbooks today have “cramped keyboards, junky hardware, very small screen, bad software” and says these aren’t the type of products that Apple would “put the Mac brand on.” He says Apple’s not interested in thee netbooks and that he doesn’t think they’re “something consumers would be interested in the long term.”

In other words, Cook says netbooks are just a passing fad and while he doesn’t rule out the possibility of Apple bringing a new “innovative product” to market, he basically implies that you can use an iPhone or iPod Touch to do everything you can do with a netbook.

You know what? I’m not even going to bother with a counterpoint here. I’ll leave that to you. Comment away!

  • Mikez

    Apple sells to a nitch market with a high margin and little serious competition.
    As long as that nitch market exists and serious competition stays away, why do anything else?
    Somebody has to skim the cream of the personal computer markets.

  • Stan

    Apple isn't so much a computer company as an appliance company. Data and information based appliances to be certain, but appliances. The Apple idea is to make a machine not unlike a computer that is as reliable and uneventful in its use as a stove. That may explain the obnoxiously fashionable styling. I'm typing this on a 2007 model iMac.

    If Apple produced a “lite” MacBook on a premium netbook platform, at a $600-ish price point they would just take over. What the most of us think of as computers may not be in Apple's far future.

    For the moment, for me, it's OS X for home with lots of toys like video, video chat and so on, but a nice, low-cost, little machine with Ubuntu when I'm on moving around and don't really use all the toys.

  • Bolomkxxviii

    Apple will come out with a netbook like device. They will price it way too high and claim it is not a netbook.

  • Tony

    That's fine Apple doesn't need my money anyways.

  • Steve

    I'm a huge Apple fanboy with 3 Macs and a Dell Mini 9 running Leopard. I also have a 16GB Touch. I'd take the Netbook (even running another OS) over the touch/iPhone any day for browsing. They are not even close in terms of data entry and I even have small hands.

  • PrincessNybor

    I'm holding by my original prediction. Apple will release an overgrown iPod Touch, and will offer it at some kind of reasonable price, as long as you bundle 3G service through AT&T.

    Here are my conjectured specs.

    10.2″ Capacitive Touch Screen (probably 1024×600)
    Absurdly thin, with very little bezel around the screen
    Battery-efficient processor (probably ARM)
    32GB or 64GB of flash memory
    Only proprietary peripheral options
    Integrated WiFi and 3G modem

    The interface will be closer to that of the iPhone than full OS X. They will bundle some document editing functionality, and it will have to support background processes. You’ll have your Mail, Contacts, and Calendar, with full Exchange support, just like the iPhone. The App Store will be available, with an SDK and easy tools for developers to port their iPhone/iPod Touch Apps.

    The device will be marketed as a multimedia/internet device. The screen size will be “excellent” for watching movies, and “perfect” for reading eBooks. (Apple wants some of Amazon’s Kindle mojo.) It will be presented as something that wouldn’t replace your iPhone for portability or your MacBook for power, but provide a nice “in between” for when you’re on the go. In other words, the perfect device for someone who already has both an iPhone and a MacBook(Pro), but still has more money to give to Apple.

    I can’t hit on a name, though. If they hadn’t already released a product called “iBook” in the past, that’s what I’d be tempted to guess. It’s halfway in between an iPhone/iPod and a MacBook. It will be something along those lines.

    Price will be $899 (32GB) or $999 (64GB) without a data plan, and $499 or $599 with data. I'm guessing a keyboard peripheral (not included) will be available at launch. This would allow you to turn the device into a clamshell, or detach the tablet portion. Keyboard will run about $149.

    Would you buy one?

  • http://www.netbooks.ph/forums/ chiemartin

    Apple doesn't need to release a netbook at all. But if they ever do, it would probably be a head-turner, knowing how Apple thinks of the best concepts. It's still wait and see, and I do hope we get to see one soon. :D

  • notywtr

    no problem… I'll just keep using my Dell Mini 9 running OSX 10.5.6
    complements my iPhone3G and MacBook Pro very well

  • Barrett

    Too bad my favorite OS on my Acer 10″ netbook is MacOS X 10.5.6 Leopard.

    The enlarged iPhone idea is interesting. Input will be the key factor. Maybe an onscreen keyboard would suffice; I don't know. How will Apple handle supporting different screen resolutions?

    I do think the netbook resolutions are on the small side for MacOS, more so than even for Windows due to the menu bar at the top of the screen.

    Apple should probably make a $700 model 12″ laptop with one of the new, cheaper Intel CULV processors and the NVidia chipset they seem to like so much. Oh, and it could support a full-size keyboard, and for the first time in a Mac, integrated 3G.

    No one has integrated 3G and fully used the space of the bottom half of a net/notebook yet, at least not in the US. (the Asus 1000HGo and the Samsung NC10 have 3G in Europe) Still, the entire width of the base should be used by keyboard, with the top of the keyboard almost flush against the screen, and the remaining vertical space below it filled with a large, multi-touch trackpad with two buttons below it. (I guess the two buttons would become one or none on a Mac)

  • animatio

    as i read these comments i like to conclude 2 things:
    firstly – fanboys/girls are happy with existing (not apple) netbooks, designed clever enough (hey cupertino!) to run osx – so there is no burning need so far to beg steve on knees loud enough till the master fullfills the spell
    secondly – the rest of style freaks is satisfied with the iphone/pad anyway, kicking their sour earned money by this way into steves pockets.

  • Skavoovie

    This is mainly right on but I would question the Princess' projected numbers. $149 for a keyboard? Close to double Apple's most expensive keyboard now. I don't think so. Add some lower end options such as less storage and Wi-Fi/Bluetooth only and it gets more realistic.

    Yes I would buy it but with 32 or 64GB? No way.

    Now if it can be operated with a detached keyboard, how will the iWhat be propped up? Like a picture frame? Some kind of holder accessory?

  • Nakoruru

    iStick-My-Screen-With-Your-Fingers devices are just sorry uncute pieces of unreasonable boast. Buying an iPhone, common mediocre folk (not only but mostly) try to show they relate to top gadget design thus disvaluing qenuine uniqueness of Apple once-sexy devices. We call it 'popsA' here in Russia, from the offensively addressed 'popular'. Just another commodity, a generally accessed consumer electronics sample. Quite useless due to restrictions to free software development and technical and ergonimical flaws. I'm not even considering buying an iPhone after its release. I'm gonna get my hands on HTC Magic once it's available.

    And netbooks are just different. Cook says I can do anything I do with my HP 1120 with an iPhone? Ok, mr. Cocky Cookie, I'm buying your iPhone if it lets me type text as fast as I can on my tiny lappie, view an average internet page without horizontal scrolling, check it with Web Developer toolset and then edit something on it as fast and as convenient as I can do it in Dreamweaver on my netbook adding a processed by Photoshop image to it. What? No can do? Then flip off, dear mr. My-pants-smell-better-than-roses. All your iPhone is capable of I can do with my J2ME-enabled cellphone. For the rest on-the-go tasks I'll use my netbook.

    By the way, some Asus already seems to feature a sexy keyboard similar to Sony Vaio's. And HP, too, has very decent looking products like my HP Mini 1120NR. So I don't think I need Apple on the market much. Just to thrive on more intense competition maybe. More devices, better prices — for consumers those are nicies. :)

  • http://wombatdiet.net Eats Wombats

    Of course Apple won't bring out a luxe version of a cheap computer with a small keyboard. Who needs it? Those who want to do so are already putting OSX on such machines.

    Instead Apple is going to bring out a paperback-book sized Kindle killer that can tether to the iPhone. It will transform the publishing industry.

    Of course, if you insist on doing so you'll able to use a bluetooth keyboard with it (or your iPhone) but both will respond to voice commands too.

    I'll buy one. And a nice leather cover.

  • Gregg

    Apple doesn't think of the best concepts. People just think Apple thinks of the best concepts.

  • Rich

    If netbook hardware sucks, what is Apple saying about the specs for the Mac Mini, which until recently used integrated Intel graphics and a 667 mhz bus?

    Did their PR dept read what this guy had to say?

    What idiots.

  • Rich

    “…cramped keyboards, junky hardware, very small screen, bad software…” ??? Sounds just like the MacBook and MacBook Air.

  • Brad_D

    Just more snobbery from a company that sells to fanboys and snobs. Jerk has no clue how much I get done with my Acer netbook or how nice it is to use. But happy to be a shareholder ;)

    They'll come out with some over-priced tiny piece of crap eventually and say it isn't a netbook, because of the ridiculous price no doubt. I hope they sell a billion of 'em.

  • bri

    haha yeah sure… “cramped keyboards”?? and what about hp mini 2140? or nc10 or whatever :P
    “junky hardware”? 3 years old macbooks are junk? bullshit
    “small screen”? xDD wtf, yeah and what? my iPhone don't have a 17'' screen :P
    “but, bad software”????? they mean that windows/linux software suck? I really don't understand all this….

  • http://andrewcurrie.ca acurrie

    Classic Apple play – sit back and let everyone else innovate, then rush in to catch the bell curve of snobs and idiots. It's definitely coming:

    http://bit.ly/KyaOh

    Too bad I'll be on Linux full-time by then 8-)

  • Linc (MonkeykIng)

    You know what; Apple will not get into netbooks. They don't need to and they won't want to. Apple jumps into markets where only they can make a splash because the marketplace has stagnated. Cell-phones in the west were in a rut and nobody was going to do a damn thing about its because it was profitable rut where 83% of Americans were using cell phones. Apple saw phones as a market where they could be sure the completion would fumble any response.

    In netbooks the margins are too tight, the manufactures are more nimble and to be honest I think we will quickly see what people dream of from a Apple netbook put out by Acer, Asus, MSi soon enough. Apple knows this market is awake. They see that innovation in netbooks is happening even faster they could respond and they see there is NO quick fast cash to be made.

    Apple would rather bully “Hackintosh” users with letters with legally threatening language then actually provide competition or see a market. And they’d be right there's no “marquee” or top shelf business in netbooks. The marketplace for netbooks will soon be very appliance like and I don't mean $300 Mixmaster with $200 dough hooks.

    Apple should ignore this market and we shoudl expect nothing less then them to keep spit at it…netbooks are holy water and Apple is Regan MacNeil.

    Father Damien Karras: The Power of COST compels you!
    Apple Demon: Keep away. These fan/sows are mine!

  • Zobeid

    I *lurv* my Dell Mini-9 with Mac OS X on it.

    Usually when Apple trash-talk on a type of product they don't sell, it just means Jobs is whipping his engineers to come up with one. Then the announcement will be: “Until now, netbooks sucked.”

  • Jerzy Bischoff

    Very ironic, considering the MacBook Air is already a hair's breadth different than a Samsung NC20 or a Dell Mini 12. Being in Apple's target market myself (i.e., person who could afford more and often choose to pay for it) I can't help but note that both the netbooks I mention are actually quieter and undebatably more upgradable, both points of which cue me as luxury points. That the Air has a faster CPU and nicer designed case simply do not register on the “costs five times as much” bell ringer. The line between what Apple (or Sony) call a netbook and a snob appeal laptop is so undefined except on price that I can't help but scream from my balcony: “The emperor is naked!”

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  • BobSmith

    I like all this griping about netbooks as being underpowered or too small. Being small and inexpensive, with less powerful hardware, is kind of the point. It would be a bit like someone looking at a cupcake, and angrily frothing about all the ways it isn't a huge wedding cake.

    “I mean, look at it, it's so small! How is it going to feed all the wedding guests? They can't possibly cut it into that many pieces!”

    If you're planning on playing crysis, or gears of war, then you probably wouldn't want to buy an Asus EEE or an MSI Wind. But, if all you're going to do is dick around on the internet, chat on IRC, watch youtube videos, maybe a little porn, or some futurama episodes, then a netbook might just be the ticket.

  • johnv123

    I don't like apple, and apple products because it is like joining a cult and I don't to be a part of that. I never owned an ipod or a mac but what Apple is saying is correct. Netbooks are junky computers. they can barely run anything. they are extremely slow machines. most websites require some oomph for example to play the many embedded flash videos. I had an asus eeepc 1000he and this thing can barely run youtube, try scrolling while a video is running, it is just SLOW. in short. I hope netbooks die. I see the future in cheaper tablets to replace netbooks, a decent screen size and resolution to read ebooks watch videos…. that does not run on windows but more of a stripped linux or another OS that would help speed things up. we don't want a bloated windows 7 in the new tablets.

  • http://listeningtoreason.com wanorris

    The Tablet rumors are deafening at this point. It won't be a netbook because it won't have a keyboard. And it probably won't run a full desktop OS X.

    I mean, who uses keyboards anyway?

  • http://listeningtoreason.com wanorris

    If they released a $600 netbook, it would have the same specs as a $300 netbook from anyone else, but be 4 mm thick in a case hand-sculpted from a single chunk of marble by blind tibetan artisans.

    Does anyone really think they would settle for the same margins that Asus and Acer get?

  • Why should I tell?

    Apple selling something at an affordable price? Yeah, that'll be the day…

  • griffle

    1-Okay, when you have 14″ diagonal space to put a keyboard in, you can allot for some space in between keys. The macbook keyboard is a typist's dream once you get to know it; no netbook can come close it the ergonomics of it, the small footprint just cant fit a full keyboard.

    2-My sister runs an iBook G4 that just passed 5.5 years, and it works flawlessly. I would like to see anybody run an HP mini for that long.

    3-Theyre not saying the iPhone is a netbook. The iPhone is (get this) a phone, and for a phone, it has a damn big screen. They never have claimed that the iPhone is a suitable alternative to a netbook. For running full-fledged programs, anything under 12″ seems ridiculous except as a backup to your main computer.

    4- again, smaller case=smaller processor etc etc; less power translates to a lesser ability to run software, means bad software. Windows and Linux are operating systems.

  • http://MyNetBookDirect.com/ Calvin

    It's the hottest gift this year, most popular computer, and sold 30,000,000 strong so far. So why don't you or why won't you use your netbook? You see what they forgot to tell you is that super small computer they sold you had a cramped keyboard and a extra small track-pad. It also doesn't have a DVD-RW so making music CDs is out. Want to pop in software you got a for a great deal from DigitalTreasures, you are out of luck again. So what do you do with this cramped little computer?

    Well, fortunately the folks at PC Treasures have been around the block a few times. We've had a chance to try out most of the Netbooks on the market, this is why we chose the MSI Wind netbook for our Ultimate Netbook Package. Why? Because it offers a real usable keyboard, track pad with conventional buttons, and support like no other computer manufacturer. Quite simply we think its the most usable, most durable Netbook on the market. Whether you buy it from us or another vendor you will love it.

  • http://www.dressesofwedding.com/ wedding dresses

    Of course Apple won’t bring out a luxe version of a cheap computer with a small keyboard. Who needs it? Those who want to do so are already putting OSX on such machines.