Will Apple Join the Netbook Con?
We all know the benefits of netbooks - small, light and portable - but it's an absolute con to suggest, as some folks have, they will become the dominant computing platform. And I don't think Apple is going to join that game anytime soon.
Hands up everyone who wants a netbook computer? Hmmm, most of you (myself included).
Ok, now hands up everyone who needs a netbook computer? Hmmm... as I suspected, not many of you at all.
It is true, for most folks, that 80% of their computer usage revolves web, email, casual gaming, managing their photos and a little word processing. All these tasks could be done on a netbook computer reasonably easily although not always conveniently, given the small screen.
Netbooks are fantastic for travellers, and, we're being told, for students.
But when you think about it, it amazes me people are talking seriously about netbooks for students. If it doesn't run Adobe CS, edit movies and have a screen suitable for those applications plus decent enough to make presentations, then I'm gunna resist big time if my school tries it on my kids.
I fear that in schools, if masses of students get lumbered with netbooks that are either under powered, and/or have limited screen real estate, they will become an embarrassing waste of money as they are begging to gather dust.
The big problem with the netbook is it is neither here nor there. iPhones - and sooner later its competitors - provide supreme portability while still allowing reasonably easy usage of the web, email, notes and a pretty good gaming experience. Plus, with the App Store, the iPhone can do almost anything you'd want of any handheld computer.
Your desktop or laptop provides all the higher end stuff, like movie editing, photo manipulation, presentations, spreadsheets and anything else you decide to do. Repeat, anything.
It's ironic that as we've demanded bigger and bigger screens, with 20 inch being the minimum nowadays, we're being told students will be happy with 9 inch screens.
So, between an iPhone and a laptop, you've got nearly all bases covered. Where's the netbook fit in? It's only really a benefit to someone on the road, such as your traveller, who wants a bigger screen and keyboard than the iPhone provides but something lighter and smaller than a laptop, while also only needing web, email, and photo management.
For most of us, having a netbook computer would be like having a different car for doing shopping.
Apple and the netbook
Steve said he won't make a $500 computer that's a piece of junk. But he also said he won't make a $500 computer no one will buy, that is, when he said Apple doesn't yet see a market for a netbook. However, he did say Apple is watching the netbook market keenly and will enter when and if necessary. Kinda reminds me of the tablet PC. We're still waiting for it to be a viable market.
Apple's problem with the netbook market is the same as why most people don't need a netbook. It's about that other 20% of usage, the usage that demands either a full sized screen or a high speed computer.
Plus Apple couldn't control that market like it can with the iPhone and App Store.
Apple may consider making the netbook a touchscreen device. But that would make it a tablet device and these just haven't found success beyond niche applications. And then Apple would essentially be setting it up against the iPhone.
Will MWSF 09 see a netbook? The market hasn't defined itself yet, so I'd be very surprised as I don't think this is one of those situations where Apple can define the market, and I don't think it would even want to. (But you can bet that if Apple does enter the netbook market, we'll all think they're the best ever and we really do need one.)
The irony in the netbook market is screens started at 7 inch but have progressed up to 10 inch, driven by the need for more screen real estate. Apple did already have the best netbook (except for the price), when it made the 12 inch Powerbook - and yet one of the commonest complaints was the screen size.
So, yes I desperately want a netbook, I do drool over them, but with an iPhone and an iMac, I just can't justify a device that is a bit of both but not enough of either. After all, who needs three computers?
Unless Apple can find a way to convince us we need a third computer, I don't think you'll see a netbook from Apple anytime soon.
What's your opinion on Apple and netbooks?