Most netbooks today are nothing but tiny computers. They have similar displays, keyboards, and components including CPUs, RAM, and hard drives or solid state storage. And most netbooks powered by Intel or VIA chips are capable of running Windows, Linux, or in some cases OS X.
But a growing number of netbook makers are considering ARM-based processors, which use less power. That helps prolong battery life while offering decent, if not stellar performance. Microsoft and Apple don’t currently support ARM-based chips for their desktop operating systems, which means that any netbooks built around these processors are most likely going to run an operating system like Linux, Windows CE, or Google Android. And you know what else runs those operating systems? Cellphones.
EETimes makes the case that the gap between netbooks and smartphones is shrinking. And while netbooks visually look more like full sized laptops than they do like mobile phones, you can certainly argue that they have more in common with phones. Netbooks are small, light, low power, and are capable of connecting to the internet (or even making voice or video calls using VoIP software). And the price difference between the two devices are becoming smaller. In fact, we’re seeing a growing number of mobile broadband providers subsidize the cost of netbooks much the way they do with cellphones. Sign up for a 2 year sevice plan, (which you might have been ready to pay for anyway), and you can get a mini-laptop cheap or free.
What do you think, are netbooks becoming cellphones? Or do you like your min-notebook with a little more processing power and the ability to run desktop computer apps?