Speaking at a recent conference, an Intel executive said two rather interesting things. In a nutshell, he said that:
- Intel had originally expected netbooks to work well for developing markets, but the bulk of netbook sales are now in developed nations like the US and European countries.
- Netbooks, with their small screens and keyboards are fine if you want to use them for an hour or so, but you probably wouldn’t make it your primary computer.
Now, these two statements are getting a lot of press because it makes it sound like Intel doesn’t think netbooks are changing the face of computing and poised to replace the laptop. But umm… I don’t think Intel ever claimed that they would.
Netbooks have been good for companies like Intel because they’ve opened up two whole new market segments: Customers in developing markets who may not have purchased computers before, and people in developed nations who are interested in a cheap, portable laptop to carry around as a second or third computer. Some people will certainly find that a netbook does everything they need it to and that it can therefore replace a full sized laptop. But I seriously doubt that this is how most people think about the tiny laptops.
So I don’t think Intel is losing any faith in the netbook form factor. Rather, I think the company is suggesting that netbooks are good as an extra computer, not a primary computer. Because seriously, do you think Intel or any other chip or PC maker would try to convince you that their low end machines are good enough for everyday use and that you don’t need to buy one of their more expensive models?