Sunday, January 04, 2009

Netbook PCs

A year ago (or so) I first heard about a company producing a stripped-down notebook PC that would only run Windows XP. I thought it was interesting, but more of a curiosity than a wave of things to come. But now, so-called "netbooks" are all the range. From a Reuters article on the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show (CES):

SMALLER, CONNECTED AND CONVERGED

CES is likely to be awash in small, $300 to $400 laptops known as netbooks, which are gaining popularity, even as overall PC sales stall. IDC expects netbook unit shipments to surge 85 percent to 21.5 million in 2009.

Nearly every PC maker except Apple Inc has thrown its hat into the netbook space, hoping that volume sales will make up for lower margins. Analysts expect to see even cheaper netbooks emerge for 2009, possibly below $200.

So far, according to DisplaySearch, Taiwan's Acer Inc and Asustek Computer Inc dominate the netbook market, as Hewlett-Packard Co and Dell Inc struggle to catch up. Some expect Sony to unveil a netbook at CES.

I do not expect that the current crop of netbooks will be able to replace even my three-year old Toshiba notebook PC, but they do sound intriguing and may be a better alternative for lower-end educational purposes. $300 and "green" to boot.

My suspicion is that another two revision cycles for hardware and software will result in a "converged" netbook/notebook market. A slimmed-down Windows 7 and cheaper 32-64GB flash memory could become the new standard for even professional-grade mobile computing in two years.

-- Jack Krupansky

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