barendsonSony UK Vaio head Nicolas Barendson has pretty much confirmed that the company won’t be releasing a netbook – or at least not a netbook that looks like all the other mini-laptops on the market today. He says all of the 7 to 10 inch notebooks available today are kind of “in-between” propositions for consumers, since they’re too large to fit in your pocket but still much smaller than full sized laptops.

That’s absolutely true. But he’s wrong in making the leap from there to the idea that consumers aren’t happy with the mini-laptops available today.

The truth of the matter is that computer makers have been trying to push mobile devices, ultraportable computers, UMPCs, and even “netbooks” for years. And while those devices always managed to find niche markets, the 7 to 10 inch netbooks running Linux and Windows XP that are flooding the market today are the first to gain truly widespread consumer support.

That’s likely due to a combination of price, portability, and usability. Because no matter how much Sony, AMD, or Apple try to tell us that today’s netbooks are only good for light web surfing, the truth is they’re powerful enough to run office software, multimedia software, and even some video games. If you’re comfortable with a 10 inch screen and a small keyboard, netbooks are already powerful enough to handle 90% of the tasks that most people will throw at them. And they’re getting more powerful.

Of course, computer makers like Sony have a vested interest in trying to segment the market into cheap, portable devices that aren’t full computers, and high end machines. Because they want to be able to sell both.

With that in mind, Barendson says that he thinks the “netbook” market will evolve to cover a wider array of devices over the next year with different form factors. For example, there could be products for “home use” and other products that are pocketable and which feature quick-boot and maybe Linux options. Perhaps a sub-netbook?

You can check out ZDNet’s complete interview with Barendson after the break.

via Eee PC News

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16 replies on “Sony exec says today’s netbooks stink”

  1. The only reason this guy is saying this stuff is to avoid being fired for missing the boat on netbooks. It is idiotic for a laptop company to pass up on the netbook craze. Imagine how much money would have been lost if Acer decided not to go into the market because they thought Asus had already cornered it? Its just plain stupid, and anyone with half a brain knows this guy is engaging in damage control. Plain and simple. Right now he is kicking himself for not embracing netbooks but he has to talk a good show to avoid being fired.

  2. man is that guys a huge bozo, who’s he think he’s talking too? nitwits

  3. The trouble with the smaller “pocketable” devices is that the market is already being addressed by the new generation of smartphones like the Samsung Instinct, Blackberry Storm, and (of course) the iPhone. Sure, web browsing isn’t as fast or full-featured as it is on a device running a full operating system, but it’s not much better on any device with a small screen.

    But all of that misses the point. The thing that companies like Sony, Apple, and AMD refuse to understand is that the current generation of netbook models wouldn’t have INVENTED a new market segment if people weren’t satisfied with what they were getting.

    However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a market for more expensive devices that go beyond the capabilities of a netbook. The ONE thing I would love to have, and for which would be willing to shell out much more cash is a true TABLET sub-notebook. Here are the requirements.

    9″ or 10″ capacitive multi-touch LED backlit screen plus active pen digitizer.
    No more than 2.5 lbs WITH battery that lasts 5+ hours of actual use.
    Full keyboard with convertible screen for tablet mode.
    Must fit in my purse. Small footprint is preferable to crazy thin.
    Either a real 2.5″ SATA hard drive or fast SSD > 64 GB.
    Full desktop operating system that supports true multi-touch. As to flavor, I’m agnostic. Mac OS X, Windows 7, or Linux are all fine with me.

    This is clearly above the capabilities of a netbook, so I would be willing to pay well upwards of $1000 for such a device. Maybe even $2000, if it’s beautiful. I’m looking at you, Apple. The MacBook Air just doesn’t cut it.

  4. What happened to the Sony that was the leader in innovation of small consumer electrics: Radio/cassette/CD/PMP-Walkman, first transistor radio, etc.., etc? Nitwits like Barendson are running the show.

    Ever since Akio Morita died in 1999 the company has gone downhill, look at all the fiascos: The missed the LCD TV revolution and had to play catch-up.

    This is pure sour grapes and the fact that Sony would want at least $1000 for a netbook which would never sell.

  5. This just in: Netbook users say Sony stinks. Lets make a deal with Sony. They don’t make netbooks and we won’t buy their products.

  6. Der Sir Sony UK Vaio head Nicolas Barendson,

    your netbooks umpc and whatever stink. Did you notice that eeepc tried to hit it right and they deserved to have sales like that. Your UMPCs were overexpensive garbage, which you tried to sell as elitist hardware, while it could not run even windows at decent speeds. *taps finger on his forehead* Do you really believe that we are buying 2000 Euro notebook from you, when we can get almost as good one for 300-500 and even in smaller size?


  7. Sony’s problem is they run the whole company like a fiefdom. The people who make the computers are pitted against the compny that makes the mobile internet devices. The undercut and snipe at each other so much that neither can walking in the Sony Non-Mans Land in between. To even get something innovative to the market one fiefdom battle the others, it doesn’t matter if teh product is wrong ist what that one fiefdom has and they are going to run with it even if they see the market is on some other field.

    Then again I can understand why Sony might be confused, most people in the computer industry & media are blind too Netbooks too. I was just watching Cranky Geeks last week and when the topic came up about Netbooks. It seemed like not one of the panel knew anything except what came out in 2007: just a vague notion of 7″ screens, tiny SSD drives, a devices running Linux. Those guys are in the industry their supposed to be the bosses of the people testing, writing, and pontificating on tech and they have NO CLUE what a Netbook form the last six months looks like, what it includes, or even what sort of functionality to expect. A 7” netbook form 18 months ago is a whole different animal from a modern Lenovo, Samsung, HP or MSi ten inch Netbook.

  8. This guy is full of shit. He talks gibberish just to conceal that Sony totally missed out on an important market trend. And has no offer whatsoever on the netbook market.

  9. I didn’t hear the part where he said that netbooks “stink” per se, but I guess that was the gist of it. 🙂 He almost sounds as if he is talking about a previous generation of netbooks and has not yet handled one of the more recent models. Anyway, what do we expect Sony to say, that today’s current crop of netbooks are great? No, they are saying that they will study the market and come out with the best alternatives emphasizing reliability and anything else to give them time to come up with something competetive. Lilliputing makes a good point when stating that PC makers have for years been trying to crack the portable market and, in spite of what Nicholas says, it is this particular form factor that seems to be what the market is really after as demonstrated by increasingly positive sales figures. Other sizes just haven’t hit the sweet spot. The audio in the interview was a bit low and I was in a noisy place so I only watched it half way.

  10. Nicolas Barendson: “Those grapes are probably sour.”
    I.E: “Sour Grapes”

  11. he’s trying to justify paying $1200+ for a small and light computer.the only argument he has is the available processing power of such units.the average light-weight computer buyer does not need a dual core processor and 4 gigs of ram to send an e-mail or browse the internet.nice try though.

  12. I think it’s hilarious that a company that has done brilliant engineering in 11″ ultralights says that 10″ systems are no man’s land, and no one wants them. I guess that inch makes all the difference.

  13. Sony may well be missing the boat here.

    I have only had my Dell Mini 9 (Ubuntu) for about a week now, but have already discovered that its size, functionality, and long battery life make it a perfect companion for most of my needs.

  14. The reason I wont go bigger than my 9 inch netbook is that it fits in my winter coat perfectly and powerful enough?
    So far this past month, Ive edited a podcast on Audacity on the fly, used Open Office Draw and Inkscape to make flyers on the go and used GIMP to to crop, edit, redeye pictures from our vacations on the flight back on top of the usual surfing, email, watching .avi movies that we usually do on it.

    Our other laptop is a Dual-core pentium and I use them both the same way so let me fart in the general direction of the 2-3 companies who havent gotten into the game and who are trying to tell us that we dont like what we have.

    Im 6’4, with big meaty hands that can still palm a basketball and while the keyboard on my netbook isnt as confortable (my, my, quelle surprise), I can still do enough work while typing 20% slower than the 50wpm I do on a regular keyboard.

    Would I type War and Peace on the netbook? No but that’s why I have a 2K$ desktop with 130$ keyboard.
    Of course, the mobility of the desktop isnt as good as the netbook either.

    So, Sony, AMD and Apple (the company that best exemplifies “we know better than the consumer what they want”) can go bite my ass, I like what I bought for 289$.
    Actually, I like it a LOT more than I thought I would and we are probably going to buy another one while the laptop we paid 1200$ for sits unused in a corner.

    Will the market evolve over the next months/years?
    Of course.
    But a smartphone like the Crackberry or N95 have their use, just like a 9 inch netbook has its use or our 14 inch tank/laptop.
    There will NEVER be one product that will replace all three formats because of the size differences.

  15. this guy is amazing lol. but sony is a dead cow anyway in so many other ways that I read and smile.

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