Intel is in a funny position when it comes to netbooks. The company’s low power Atom processors have proven hugely popular. They show up in mini-laptops from Dell, HP, Acer, Asus, MSI, Lenovo, Toshiba, Sony and other major computer makers. And netbooks and Intel Atom processors represent growth areas for computer companies at a time when the global recession is generally taking a heavy toll on tech industry sales.

But netbooks and Atom CPUs are cheap. And the profit margins are low. So while companies are selling a lot of these devices, they aren’t making a ton of money — or at least not as much money as they would if they were selling pricier, larger notebooks with more powerful processors.

So what’s the solution? Convince consumers that they really need two separate devices, a notebook and a netbook.

Intel has posted an information page explaining the differences between netbooks and more traditional laptops with helpful answers to questions like “Can I replace my aging laptop with a netbook? No. A netbook doesn’t have the processing power and functionality you’d need to run many fo the applications your current laptop supports…”

Except that’s not entirely true. Intel created a chart that suggests Netbooks can’t multitask, create and edit videos and photos, encode music, watch HD movies, or run complex office software. The truth is most netbooks can do all of those things with the exception of watching 1080p videos (although most Atom-powered netbooks have no problem with 720p videos). They just can’t do them as well as a pricier computer with a faster processor, more RAM, etc. But I’ve had no problem editing images while listening to music and surfing the web on a netbook.

I still wouldn’t really suggest that most consumers purchase a netbook as their only computer. The screen and keyboard are relatively small and some people will get frustrated if they try to use these tiny laptops for more than a few hours at a time. They’re much slower than computers with dual core processors at performing tasks like editing videos. And some web pages and computer programs will have problems fitting on a 1024 x 600 pixel display.

But for some people, a netbook would certainly be a decent replacement for an aging laptop — especially if you also happen to have a desktop computer at home. Where netbooks really excel is in their portability. They’re so much smaller and lighter than the laptops of yesteryear that you’ll be much more likely to actually take a computer with you when you leave the house if you own a netbook. Since I started using netbooks in 2007 my 15 inch laptop has found a permanent space on my desk. It rarely leaves the home office, let alone the home.

Still, I can understand why Intel wants to convince people that netbooks aren’t really laptops. They’re in the business of selling processors, after all.

via jkkmobile

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17 replies on “Intel: Netbooks are limited, please keep buying pricier laptops”

  1. Intel apparently don’t really “get” the attraction of netbvooks to end users. (1) low weight, (2) high portability, (3) Low power, (4) low cost and (5) the highest battery life that can be had without missing out on the first three. CPU grunt is priority (6) … and the current crop of netbooks has enough grunt anyway.

    If Intel continue to try to upgrade (6) on netbooks, at the expense of (2), (3), (5) and possibly as a consequence (1) and (4) … then ARM will come along soon and eat their netbook lunch in every important area (1) to (5).

  2. MonkeyKing To Intel: Netbooks are perfectly fine, please go fist yourselves and/or figure out a way to sell MORE netbooks.

  3. Intel is going to have to live with the lower margins….boo-hoo. So their profits aren’t going to be as fat: TOUGH BANANAS if you ask me. Here’s the realness of the situation:

    Netbooks can do almost anything Notebooks can and at a fraction of the cost. I’ve bought 3 of them so far (EEEPC 900HA, Acer Aspire One 10.1″, Samsung NC10 = $1100) and I still haven’t spent as much as I would have on a higher end laptop like the MacBook Pro/Air or even higher end Dells, HPs, or Sony Vaios.

    I have my main desktop for editing websites / using photoshop and compiling / editing videos… I don’t need a laptop to do that.

    Bottom Line Intel = Concentrate on VOLUME. Convince consumers to spend more on get MULTIPLE netbooks if possible (one HTPC, one on the go, one for child(ren), one for whatever else) and make up the margins that way.

    Just my two cents…

  4. Intel has a new baby… I mean a hit. They didn’t want it, even though they used contraceptive for years, it’s here, and they have to deal with it. The baby is very popular with their relatives, but, what would you expect, almost everyone seems to like babies. The baby is going to cost them a lot, they have to feed it, educate it, pay for Medicare, etc. What can they do? What’s done is done. And the decision proved very popular. 🙂

  5. As many have said here looing at “what a netbook can’t do” is proving to be the wrong way of looking at it as each day passes as the technology gaps are closing fast.

    Just define what a Netbook is, for me only three things in combination make up a netbook as distinct a laptop (even ultra thin models):

    1. It’s signficantly cheaper
    2. Battery life is significantly higher
    3. Its smaller (however even this is changing)

    It’s not about graphics (NVidia ION will silence that camp – full 1080p)
    It’s not about CPU grunt as the dual core models and the CULV CPU shrinks the gap
    It’s not about the presence of an optical drive as some have been announced with these
    Some netbooks are even coming in the tablet form factor (one of my favs!)
    As long as atleast number 1 & 2 above remain true most of us will see little sense in spending so much more money

    I have been using my Samsung NC10 for three weeks now and haven’t pulled out my dull brick (Toshiba M700 tablet) since.

    What’s not to like when running Windows 7 or the OS of your choice?

    I play my multimedia (W7 mediacentre software is cool), read email, surf, write my reports and presentations, use remote access to get to servers and VPN into work etc.

    Now the emergence of the Nettop (desktop netbook) will start to eat into the desktop market and will also have a positive influence on running windows apps such as mediacentre through to your TV. In the past you needed to spend a lot of money on an ATX (HTC) style PC, and /or a media extender and know lots of other techie stuff. That didn’t sit well as a retail product offering.

    Now all I do is hook up my nettop to my TV HDMI connection and use my remote control as if it were a DVD recorder on steriods.

    Hang on a sec? an ATOM PC running multimedia on a huge Plasma! Didn’t Intel say this was one of the weak points of netbooks?

    Hey folks, here is one thing though, wouldn’t the joystick mouse in the middle of the keyboard resolve most of the complaints about a small mousepad? I’d love to see a netbook that came with both.

    Add that to a dual core NVidia ION netbook at 10.2″ with long battery times and still a very low price and I’d buy another netbook again and would still have money left over from what I would have spent on a decent laptop !!!

  6. In a notebook or portable computer … Intel is missing the point. The bigger ones are TOO BIG, and battery last too little time. Folks have wanted the netbook all along, but Intel and the other companies priced the small ones too high, or built notebooks that were too big to carry around.

    I love my CrunchBang Linux on my netbook (very fast, don’t need the fancy RAM and Battery hungry GUI to get work done quickly).

    Can’t wait to see the first netbook that uses Pixel Qi’s 10 inch screen (sunlight readable and with long long long long battery life). Maybe touchscreen too.

  7. Actually, I kind of agree. My netbook is the raondigital everun note because I need the dual core power. I edit audio for a website. I’ve been holding off on all these atom clones until they come out with dual core versions.

  8. P.S. That netbook in the picture is way cuter than most of the real ones. Does anyone actually use a track button on a mini-laptop besides Sony?

    1. Well, lenovo in X series models, some of which you can get pretty cheap. Not a “netbook” by liliputing standards, but still about the size of most 10″ netbooks…

  9. I’m sorry, I couldn’t read the article. I was too busy using my Acer Aspire One to finish a proposal on my Word 2007, complete a PowerPoint Presentation, check my email, watch a Family Guy video on Hulu, and watch Iron Man as a HD Divx. What did it say again about netbooks and laptops?

  10. Honestly, I don’t think they’re going to gain much ground with that type of advertising. I currently have a powerful desktop, a 15″ MacBook Pro (about a year old), and my Asus Eee PC 1000HE.

    I’ve had several netbooks (original 7″ Eee and 9″ Aspire One), but since getting the 1000HE, I rarely even use my MacBook Pro anymore. The Eee is much lighter in my briefcase, and the 10″ screen is *just* big enough to get real work done. And the battery life puts my MacBook Pro to shame, especially when I have to work in Windows (battery life is about 2.5 hrs in Windows, 4.5 hrs in OS X).

    I am about ready to list the MacBook Pro on eBay. I haven’t turned it on in a week. I agree that few people could rely on a netbook to meet ALL of their computing needs, but for me, a desktop is plenty. I have all the power I need in my desktop, and all the portability and battery life I could want in my netbook.

    Though I still secretly want Apple to build that tablet that everyone is talking about. [=^D

  11. Intel is in a funny position. They don’t want to eat into their own high end laptop sales any more than they already have, but they will have to make netbooks more capable or Via (Nano) and nVidia will take all of the netbook market by the end of the year. We will see how well Intel can dance on the edge of a razor blade.

    1. It sounds a bit like history repeating itself – –
      Once Intel built memory chips as a major product line – –
      As the margins dropped, they did that dance on the edge of a razor blade – –
      Until they finally sold out that part of the business.

      They may be forced into a product line re-organization here also –
      Sell off the $1 profit margin products, keep the $100 profit margin products.
      Somebody out there (with fab facilities) would probably jump at the
      chance to buy the “Atom I.P.”

  12. Um…. what’s the point of 1080p on a device with only 600px max (usually… HP excepted) and no HDMI out?

    Yeah, yeah… you could hook it to a big honkin’ monitor… but really.

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