Research firm ABI put out a report this week that estimates that netbook shipments could reach 35 million units this year, and as many as 139 million in 2013. While there’s no doubt that netbooks are the fastest growing segment of the cmputer industry right now, it seems a bit strange to be making predicitons 4 years in advance about a product category that didn’t even exist 18 months ago. But I guess it all depends on how you categorize netbooks.
I like to think a netbook is a computer with a 10 inch or smaller screen that weighs around 3 pounds or less, and carries a relatively low price tag (typically between $300 and $600). Odds are that by 2013 we’ll see dramatically different machines fitting that description than we have today. We’re already starting to see companies like Asus and Intel push convertible tablet-style devices with full keyboards. NVIDIA wants to put discrete graphics chips in low cost mini-laptops. Who knows what’s next?
In the meantime, other companies are convinced that you can’t have a full computing experience without a larger screen and keyboard and faster processor, so they’re pushing a different class of thin and light device with better performance and higher price tag.
So will netbooks become popular enough to hit 139 million shipments in 2013? Maybe. But they might not be netbooks like the ones we see today.
Wlist theinner parts of the netbook may change to provide more eatures and power the two overriding things that made them as popular as they are today will continue.
Relative price and form factor
I am sure some of the late entrants into the market may want to provide netbooks at a higher premium to kep their margins high but these will have limited success. The fact that more and more folks are reading email and web pages on PDA’s on screens at a fraction of the size and resolution and typing emails etc on physical and virtual keyboards that are minute by comparison small screens and keyboards will not be an issue. Remember netbooks come with keyboards around 95% of the normal sized keyboards anyway.
It is very old thinking that suggests otherwise. You only need to take a look in your average library or University to see that these netbooks are here to stay. It only takes one large corporate to see the sense of this (from a pure economics factor) to change the old fashioned folk out there that this is the a new platform that will be part of the corporate purchasing standard going forwards.
I challenge any standard corporate road warrior to work with a decently spec’d netbook with the standard productivity tools loaded (office etc) and not come out of the test feeling much happier than they are today.
I travel once a month and carry arfound my Toshiba Brick (M400 Tablet) and hate the weight and the cost (which is usually three times the amount)!!
Sustained use for us old farts might be an issue but not for the young’uns
For us old nlokes we can plug it into a keyboard, mouse and large screen once back at the office anyway !
I think the biggest challenge these devices have is getting over the perception (that has been promoted by many suppliers) that these Netbooks are primarily aimed an web surfing and can’t handle anything local.
It is plainly not true and many folk will have more than enough grunt under the hood to run the standard stuff. With Moore’s law that is a perception that the suppliers and people will need to quash very quickly. You need only take a look at the advances announced at CES 2009.
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