Friday, December 17, 2010

What to expect from Netbooks in 2011

Since the concept of the Netbook was created three years ago, more than 100,000 of this portable internet access devices have been created. Over time, with faster processors, larger hard drives, bigger displays and keyboards, it is getting hard these internet access machines are getting hard to distinguish from ultraportable laptops. The only way to distinguish a Netbook these days is that it runs on an Intel Atom processor and Windows 7 Starter.

The Asus Eee PC 1018p. With its brushed Aluminum finish and
chiclet keyboard, it does not look like a the traditional concept of the Netbook as a toy like laptop. 

The Netbook is an embattled platform. They are under pressure from the top by lower cost ultraportables like the Acer Aspire TimelineX 1830T,  Asus UL series and Lenovo's U series of ultraportables running Consumer Ultra Low Voltage Processors (CULV) at the Php30K mark. From the side, Tablet's will be occupying the same price point as Netbooks. True, the new breed of Tablets do not have a keyboard, but many tablets will come with the option for a detachable keyboard. More capable smartphones are becoming the choice mobile internet access device. All these will compound to reduce Netbook sales. 

But in reality, they are all eating into each others markets. The Netbook is a viable alternative to the ultraportable laptop, is becoming more so over time. The Tablet is a viable alternative to the high end smartphone. The reality is we now simply have more options.

Netbooks will have some breathing room from Tablets in 2011. Between the Intel the Chedar Trail the AMD Fusion platforms, by the second half of next year pretty much all Netbooks will be able to play HD content and will have HDMI ports. The Netbook will really just be a low cost ultraportable laptop. With this we will see more Notebooks migrate to 1366 x 768 screen resolutions. I suspect it wont be too long before HDMI ports and 720p screens start appearing in Tablets.

We do not expect Netbooks to change too much at all in 2011, in the same way they did not change much in 2010. There really is no reason to improve beyond that. Some may feature touch screens, but I really do not see the need for that. Ultraportable laptops have always been a useful and highly marketable device, and the onslaught of Tablets and smartphones wont change that. But the Netbooks as a concept will simply cease to exist. The concept of the Netbook is dead. What can't you do on a netbook that you can do on your basic laptop? Whether you call them Netbooks or something else, they are really much more than internet access devices.  The future of the low cost ultraportable laptop is secure. Tablets wont change that.  


  1. The reason the netbook concept will live on is strictly because of the price. You can't get a laptop for $200, but a netbook you can. However, too often uneducated consumers don't differentiate between the low powered netbooks and a laptop, which results in some pretty bad disappointment!

  2. No argument on my part. You are correct. I guess my point is that by the second half of 2011 netbooks will reaching the point where they are only netbooks in name. This early, I am not sure whether dual core Atom's with Nivida Optimus graphics are still really netbooks.


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