“What happened to netbooks?”

Farhad Manjoo thinks Apple killed the netbook with the iPad and MacBook Air.

Netbooks are dead. Good riddance! Just a few years ago, these small, underpowered, ultracheap laptops were considered the future of the computer industry. In 2008 and 2009, recession-strapped consumers around the world began snapping up netbooks in droves. They became the fastest-growing segment of the PC market, and some wild-eyed analysts were suggesting that netbook sales would soon eclipse those of desktops and regular laptops combined. That didn’t happen. Over the past couple years the netbook market crashed. Now, as Charles Arthur reports in the Guardian, most major PC manufacturers have stopped making these tiny machines. The last holdouts were the Taiwanese firms Acer and Asus. Both say they won’t build any netbooks in 2013.

If you study the PC industry over the past five years, you find only one company that had the means, motive, and opportunity. Apple killed the netbook, more or less single-handedly, and we should all be grateful for it.

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3 Responses to “What happened to netbooks?”

  1. harqueb.us says:

    If you haven’t seen a MS Surface in person yet – it’s an Ultrabook killer. A tablet with a floppy (or optional rigid) keyboard running Windows 8, it does everything a business laptop can do but much more portable, and you just flip the keyboard all the way ’round for tablet-use.

    But I’d argue that the Macbook Air *is* a top-of-the-line Ultrabook. But this new Acer might just beat it for specs and usability on a business desktop: http://us.acer.com/ac/en/US/content/series/aspiresseries
    My previous employer tried adapting Airs to Windows to use with standard apps, HDD encryption, etc, but they never worked quite right. That Aspire S3 would be fantastic, though, and the touch-screen increases compatibility with Win8.

  2. Will says:

    Netbooks were cool for about 3 months when the first eeepc came out running linux with a low price and small ssd. I would say the current spiritual successor to the netbook is the google chromebook.

  3. Laughingdog says:

    Damn. I guess I need to run out and get one then. I’ve been meaning to have one for motorcycle trips so I have a way to deal with photos and updating the gps without risking the good laptop.