Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 25th Nov 2008 22:45 UTC
Apple Apple isn't exactly known for catering to the lower end of the market, but so far, it doesn't really seem to have slowed them down much. They are selling more Macs than ever, and especially in the ever-growing notebook market, Apple is very successful. However, with people all worried about possible economic downturn, and with the success of cheap, small laptops (netbooks), people are starting to speculate if Apple will enter the netbook market.
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they already said they will...
by poundsmack on Tue 25th Nov 2008 23:01 UTC
poundsmack
Member since:
2005-07-13

its not "if" but "when." Steve already said they would when/if (ok maybe there is a little "if") he blelieves it would be profitable for Apple, IE, if there is a larger market share to be had.

Reply Score: 3

Bad news
by bolomkxxviii on Tue 25th Nov 2008 23:09 UTC
bolomkxxviii
Member since:
2006-05-19

Apple cannot win in this effort. They cannot/will not sell a netbook around the same price as a lot of the current models ($500 range). I would expect something around $750 -$800. All this will do is cannibalize their low end macbooks. The best thing Apple could do is to stay out of the market.

Reply Score: 8

RE: Bad news
by dagw on Tue 25th Nov 2008 23:45 UTC in reply to "Bad news"
dagw Member since:
2005-07-06

All this will do is cannibalize their low end macbooks.

Not if they differentiate the products well enough. for example the netbook will have a 9" screen, a small solid state hard drive and a slower processor. That in itself should be enough to differentiate the products.

I'd imagine that for every cannibalized macbook sale, they'll get at least one customer buying their first/only Apple laptop or a an existing apple customer buying a second laptop. I have no interest in buying a macbook, but would definitely be in the market for an Apple netbook.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Bad news
by binarymutant on Wed 26th Nov 2008 00:11 UTC in reply to "Bad news"
binarymutant Member since:
2008-11-11

very true, Apple is notorious for charging too much money for their hardware. I'm sure if they did try to enter the market they would sell it for a grand and market it as the Gucci of netbooks like they do for all their other products.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Bad news
by Soulbender on Wed 26th Nov 2008 09:28 UTC in reply to "RE: Bad news"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Im sure if they did try to enter the market they would sell it for a grand and market it as the Gucci of netbooks like they do for all their other products.


Which is exactly the point. Apple wouldn't have to be cheap, they sell on the brand name. You don't buy Gucci because of the quality, you buy it because it is Gucci. It is by no means crap but you an easily get the same or better quality cheaper with other brands. No matter if we like it or not, brand names sell products.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Bad news
by Piranha on Wed 26th Nov 2008 16:30 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Bad news"
Piranha Member since:
2008-06-24

That's true, however with Apple you're not 'just' paying for a printed logo. Their laptops tend to be streamlined, designed very well, and are quite innovative. For example, the patented Magsafe connector that they've been using on their entire notebook line for quite a number of years now. Who would have thought that using a tiny magnet could pose so useful if tripping over a cord. Not ONE company has been able to match, to my knowledge, something remotely close to that. Yes, it is patented, but it just goes to show the innovation the other companies lack.

Apples tend to be priced higher (and the upgrades even more), but if you compare the Macbook to a similar Dell, you'll find the prices aren't THAT far off. The gap between them has gotten smaller since their release of Intel chips, but you're getting a proven-stable OS, along with a laptop that's very slick. This 'Gucci' laptop easily stands out from the other 'Adidas' laptops.

Some argue the hardware is controlled. While true, it does give a uniformity which allows Apple to focus on (and prefect?) driver support, which Windows can't necessarily do as easily. At the same time, it's believed that Apple also ensures the hardware they choose is of good build quality and testing before placed in their products.

Edited 2008-11-26 16:34 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Bad news
by tupp on Wed 26th Nov 2008 20:43 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Bad news"
tupp Member since:
2006-11-12

Their laptops tend to be streamlined, designed very well, and are quite innovative.

Whether or not Apple laptops are aesthetically pleasant is a matter of personal taste. However, if the laptops regularly exhibit heat problems, mechanical failures or usability difficulties, the designer has failed.

There is nothing "innovative" about Apple laptops.


For example, the patented Magsafe connector that they've been using on their entire notebook line for quite a number of years now.

Apple did not innovate/invent breakaway connectors -- not even breakaway, magnetic connectors.


Who would have thought that using a tiny magnet could pose so useful if tripping over a cord.

Perhaps the thought occured to a group of countertop appliance manufacturers, about five years before Apple: http://archives.cnn.com/2001/US/07/03/deep.fryers/

Note that these magnetic breakaway connectors were announced as a UL standard on July 4, 2001 -- the Apple magsafe connector was introduced on January 10, 2006.

In addition, breakaway connectors have been used for decades in the safety and aerospace industries.


Not ONE company has been able to match, to my knowledge, something remotely close to that.

Except for the countertop appliance manufacturers (and the safety and aerospace industries) mentioned above, who had it long before Apple.

Perhaps the reason that other laptop makers don't utilize this thoroughly standardized technology is because:
- it's too expensive;
- it's too big, compared to the tiny power connectors that are common on laptops;
- it's unreliable -- wiping pins/contacts have fewer intermittent conduction problems;
- it's a fire hazard:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/rheauchyr/sets/72057594082940769/
http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/laptops/magsafe-burning-not-isolated-183...

Here's a device designed to overcome the strain relief problems inherent in the Apple magsafe connector: http://www.macworld.com/article/135299/2008/08/macmagsaver.html?lsr...

The existence of this strain-relief product begs the question: why would a properly designed magsafe connector need a strain-relief accessory?

The answer is that Apple designers and engineers are not very good.


This 'Gucci' laptop easily stands out from the other 'Adidas' laptops.

That statement is at the crux of why people buy Apple products -- they are "designer" items. They tend to appeal to people who go for that sort of thing, and to those who go for designer looks but who won't admit it.

Evidently, Apple fans also indirectly admire Braun products from the 1960s: http://gizmodo.com/343641/1960s-braun-products-hold-the-secrets-to-...

I just want a computer that works well, that doesn't restrict my choices, and that is reasonably priced.


Some argue the hardware is controlled. While true, it does give a uniformity which allows Apple to focus on (and prefect?) driver support, which Windows can't necessarily do as easily.

Go here: http://www.macfixit.com/ Then, in your browser, search "driver".

Macs have driver problems.

Plus, Macs have a host of other problems listed on this page and countless more problems and complaints in the forums section of this site ( http://www.macfixitforums.com/ ).

Of course, Macs have a lot of problems, just like other computers/OSs.

Furthermore, Apple designers and engineers are not very innovative -- they merely employ technology invented by someone else.

Reply Score: 7

RE[5]: Bad news
by PlatformAgnostic on Wed 26th Nov 2008 21:55 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Bad news"
PlatformAgnostic Member since:
2006-01-02

Everyone uses technologies invented by someone else. That's nothing new. Engineering (as opposed to Science) is all about combining the major inventions that exist out there along with some minor (maybe "obvious") ingenuity to meet the cost and time-to-market goals. Apple is one of the better manufacturers at doing this consistently, and they are also pretty good at figuring out which things consumers will find "cool" and exciting while adding only marginal cost (i.e. the backlit keyboards on the MBPs).

I don't personally like their mean and snarky advertising, and their hardware is not more reliable than any corporate-focussed laptop line (after all, they're made by the same ODMs out of the same parts), but Apple should be commended for their design sensibilities and ability to engineer a positive end-user experience.

Reply Score: 5

RE[6]: Bad news
by google_ninja on Wed 26th Nov 2008 22:09 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Bad news"
google_ninja Member since:
2006-02-05

wish i could up vote that, but I already commented on this thread

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Bad news
by tupp on Thu 27th Nov 2008 21:54 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Bad news"
tupp Member since:
2006-11-12

Some companies are a lot more innovative and ground-breaking than others. Such outfits are constantly experimenting and researching and pioneering technology.

Apple is one of the least innovative companies. They don't do a lot of original experimenting nor research. They simply employ technology as soon as someone else develops it, which makes them seem innovative.

Examples of truly innovative companies are: Bell (labs) during the 1960s and prior; Xerox during the 1970s and prior; 3M; IBM; etc.

Another good example is Sony. Over the last five decades, Sony has consistently originated and invented new technology, much of which is documented at this site: http://www.sony.net/Fun/design/history/1990.html

Here is an innovative, portable turntable from the 1980s: http://www.sony.net/Fun/design/history/product/1980/ps-f9.html

Sony invented the first pen based PDA (prior to the Newton): http://www.sony.net/Fun/design/history/product/1990/ptc-300.html

Ever seen an omnidirectional speaker that uses a glass tube as the driver?: http://www.sony.net/Fun/design/activity/product/sountina_01.html

Are you impressed by the latest Apple hype about "unibody" construction? Read how much Sony has put into the unibody enclosure of this hand-held device: http://www.sony.net/Fun/design/activity/product/pcm-d1_02.html

It's safe to say that Sony took "unibody" construction a little farther than Apple did.

By the way, machining enclosures is a common manufacturing process for small production runs (and for precision) that has been around since the beginning of the industrial age. It is not special, as Apple portrays it. Furthermore, it is more environmentally wasteful than most other manufacturing methods.

Sony is constantly experimenting with new UIs/GUIs:
http://www.sony.net/Fun/design/activity/concept/interaction/project...
http://www.sony.net/Fun/design/activity/concept/interaction/project...
http://www.sony.net/Fun/design/activity/concept/interaction/project...

In addition, Sony has four design/creativity facilities around the globe, and they actually listen to input from the end user.

Apple doesn't even come close to the immense innovation prowess of Sony, Bell Labs, Xerox, 3M, IBM, etc.

If Apple's being "pretty good at figuring out which things consumers will find 'cool' and exciting" redeems them in the eyes of Apple fans and makes Apple fans feel good, so be it.

However, please don't try to pass off Apple as an innovative company.

Edited 2008-11-27 22:09 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: Bad news
by sbergman27 on Wed 26th Nov 2008 22:07 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Bad news"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

From your link:

"A new safety standard designed to prevent serious burns to consumers requires deep fryers to have electric cords that break away from the fryer if pulled."

Which goes to show that a good safety standard often finds applicability beyond its original intended scope. I'm certain that many children have already been saved from being burned by falling MacBooks. ;-)

Edited 2008-11-26 22:14 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: Bad news
by alcibiades on Thu 27th Nov 2008 09:10 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Bad news"
alcibiades Member since:
2005-10-12

Very nice post - the exhaustive documentation on the mag release powercord is illuminating and also, given the wild praise of it as an Apple first, hilariously funny. Well done!

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Bad news
by Soulbender on Thu 27th Nov 2008 13:18 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Bad news"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

That's true, however with Apple you're not 'just' paying for a printed logo.


I never said you did. Both Gucci and Apple makes good, stylish stuff but the reason they are both so expensive is because of their branding.

but you're getting a proven-stable OS, along with a laptop that's very slick


I really hate to say it but XP is a stable OS too. It's also cute how Mac users always seem to think that Apple is the only company on planet earth that make slick, stylish laptops.

At the same time, it's believed that Apple also ensures the hardware they choose is of good build quality and testing before placed in their products.


I believe the hardware is made in China and/or Taiwan, just like everything else.

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: Bad news
by Johann Chua on Fri 28th Nov 2008 11:02 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Bad news"
Johann Chua Member since:
2005-07-22

Do any American computer companies still have manufacturing operations in the U.S.? Seems like they all outsourced to Asia. At least with high-end A/V equipment there actually is a good argument that you're paying a premium for craftsmanship, rather than mass-produced bits and pieces. Whether or not the premium is justified is another matter. ^_^

Reply Score: 2

RE: Bad news
by rajan r on Wed 26th Nov 2008 10:59 UTC in reply to "Bad news"
rajan r Member since:
2005-07-27

By that stretch of logic, brandless OEM netbooks would have led the market. Instead, more expensive Netbooks from Asus, VIA, MSI, Acer and the like seems to be leading the way.

The Netbook market isn't completely price sensitive. It's just a different market - light, highly-portable, small laptops with a small price tag. Because of that, Apple has a competitive advantage here, having a strong brand (notice, for the likes of EeePC, MSI Wind, etc., the netbooks were better designed, aesthetically, than their larger, fully-equipped cousins).

Secondly, Linux seems to be somewhat successful in the Netbook segment, but extremely so in comparison with Linux on desktops and laptops. It shows the market is willing to accept a non-Windows system in this segment, as long it performs basic functions consumers want (web browsing, email, basic productivity software). Something OS X can easily fill, especially with a much faster Snow Leopard.

Right now, netbooks are undifferentiable from each other, something very much akin to the MP3 player market when iPod entered. I think Apple can be very successful in this market, and with its brand, I think they could easily get away with higher margins than Asus or MSI.

Reply Score: 1

Comment by Kroc
by Kroc on Tue 25th Nov 2008 23:18 UTC
Kroc
Member since:
2005-11-10

Apple have already said that the iPhone practically is a netbook. We know that's not true - but that's what they've said. Apple have a habit of overlooking little details like that if they so want. (*cough*MMS*cough*)

To match Netbook prices in the UK, they'd have to sell it around £200. They'd rather you get an iPhone, sold on the value of the App Store.

I don't see it happening unless they can differentiate such a product from the iPhone.

edit: Please sort out the Unicode issues, eh.
edit II:

Secondly, Apple already made their statement about the economy by *not* releasing an $800 laptop. All the reports were false, the analysts were wrong. Totally.

Edited 2008-11-25 23:23 UTC

Reply Score: 6

RE: Comment by Kroc
by rajan r on Thu 27th Nov 2008 03:33 UTC in reply to "Comment by Kroc"
rajan r Member since:
2005-07-27

It's not even in the same product category. iPhone is good and all, but someone who is in the market for a netbook would hardly go for a iPhone. Even if that person was open to PDAs/smartphones, the iPhone with its lack of productivity application (Office, iWork, stuff like that) would pale in comparison. It's "real Internet" doesn't include Flash and Java. It doesn't even have copy-and-paste.

Customers looking for netbooks are looking for a basic computer that is highly portable and does basic computing stuff. iPhone, on the other hand, is a feature phone. Even if the App Store is a dream and a killer feature, there is no reason why Apple can't create one for Mac OS X proper. A netbook would automatically be differentiated from the iPhone.

As for price levels - a netbook is not the same as a cheap MacBook. Netbooks use energy-efficient parts (Intel Atom, flash memory, etc.) and are small, allowing for a highly-portable computer. It's never meant to function as a primary computer.

There's no reason to believe why Apple can't enter this market. It's not as if the market is completely price sensitive (market leaders like Asus and MSI would have no market then). Neither are the margins particularly small or need to be small. It's very different from a $800 Macbook, which is hard to achieve without cannibalizing higher-end model sales and the high profit margins Apple enjoys.

Reply Score: 1

Netbooks
by Chezz on Tue 25th Nov 2008 23:19 UTC
Chezz
Member since:
2005-07-11

Acer ONE? Eee PC?
I think they are expensive. Eventho they have tiny screens and all that crappy hardware. I think they are expensive. If the netbook apple creates has comparable hardware then I would buy one. Otherwise I am not interested at all in the netbook market. I have monitored all netbooks out there for a possible purchase but all the one's I saw are expensive compared to the hardware provided. Why would I pay 350 US dollars for a netbook that has 512MB ram and 4GB hard drive? What can you run on these specs? Can you give a presentation? can you play youtube HD videos?
What is the purpose of buying a netbook if you can do similar things using an iPhone for example?

Reply Score: 0

RE: Netbooks
by dagw on Tue 25th Nov 2008 23:39 UTC in reply to "Netbooks"
dagw Member since:
2005-07-06

What can you run on these specs?

Plenty of things. Web, mail and word processing being the most obvious. What do you need to run?

Can you give a presentation?

Sure, unless you've created some sort of monster presentation with embedded interactive 3d graphics and 1080p video.

can you play youtube HD videos?

I don't know about you tube HD, but most netbooks are certainly capable of HD playback.

Reply Score: 7

RE: Netbooks
by lemur2 on Wed 26th Nov 2008 00:27 UTC in reply to "Netbooks"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

What can you run on these specs? Can you give a presentation? can you play youtube HD videos?


I have got Linux Mint 6 RC1 running on my netbook currently. It has a full suite of desktop applications, including OpenOffice, all included in the purchase price, no more to pay.

So you can run a full desktop if you like. Office suite, web browser, email, IM, Skype ... the works. Yes you can give a presentation. I plugged in an external USB drive ... yes you can play videos. Yes you can play Youtube videos ... why not?

Given the low purchase price of the hardware, you would definitely have to re-think buying commercial software to do all this and thereby tripling (or worse) the all-up price ... but if you get the Linux version all of the requisite software is included out of the box.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Netbooks
by tdemj on Wed 26th Nov 2008 00:30 UTC in reply to "Netbooks"
tdemj Member since:
2006-01-03

Not all netbooks are limted to 4GB SSD (many have 12GB SSD, some have 60GB HDD). Yet as a software engineer, no, I don't find netbooks very attractive for any type of work that I do. As far as I can tell, it's too inconvenient for the average business people as well (they do a lot of typing).

The main reason for a netbook is to bridge the gap between the iPhone (pocket device) and the 12" portable notebook. That is, when extreme portability is the most important requirement, but you still need a full-blown computer. It's a huge compromise for sure. I personally don't mind carrying a slightly larger 12" tablet PC, which can do almost everything, and is only twice as heavy as a netbook (much more expensive, though).

As a hobby photographer, I used to consider buying a netbook, mainly to use it as a beautiful 9" portable display. It's fairly limited, however. The resolution is way too low. They're not powerful enough to handle 12mp RAW images, over 6MB each (let alone photo editing). They don't have compact flash readers built in. The latest cameras have very high pixel density displays with fast zoom, scroll and RGB histogram, so I decided I couldn't justify a netbook. The traveling photographers buy very light notebooks with a more capable processor -- for the cost many times higher than a netbook.

However, a netbook tablet PC would change the situation. What I'd like Apple to release is a tablet that actually works. I have seen videos of the ModBook, and Vista wins hands down when it comes to the usability of the tablet features (I'm talking about inking here, not about OS X in general). But apparently even this market is too limited for Apple to concentrate on.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Netbooks
by dvhh on Wed 26th Nov 2008 01:23 UTC in reply to "Netbooks"
dvhh Member since:
2006-03-20

Well for a start you can copy paste on a netbook.

but reasonably the main purpose of the iphone is making call, and optionally be a handy gadget . While the netbooks are targeted to cheap ass like me, that don't need extensive computing or graphics capabilities ( main culprit : photoshop UI and games, flash ). That can get apps for free, devellop apps for free, run java and a little of flash for little effects or because some web dev made flash the standard of the web.

I'm not trying to bash the iphone as it has the most capable browser for the device size (forcing web designer to adapt their page to not so mush screen real estate), made touch screen popular ( while it was struggling with other devices ).

But on the same time I could say the iphone don't appeal me as netbook does with you.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Netbooks
by Delgarde on Wed 26th Nov 2008 01:27 UTC in reply to "Netbooks"
Delgarde Member since:
2008-08-19

Why would I pay 350 US dollars for a netbook that has 512MB ram and 4GB hard drive? What can you run on these specs? Can you give a presentation? can you play youtube HD videos?


That would be an unusually low-spec machine even for a netbook - most are 1GB ram, and either 8GB or 16GB SSD, or a decent-sized hard disk. Processor is a little slow, but otherwise perfectly adequate for a lot of things. Good for travelling - they're big enough to be useful, while small and light enough to carry comfortably. Fine for web browsing, blogging, mail, photo editing (although the screen is a little small for that). Useful for students - easy to take to class, take notes, record audio, etc.

Really, consider that although the specs are weaker than a modern full-size laptop, they're not actually bad. I'd not buy one as a primary machine - I use a desktop for that - but they make a great secondary machine for someone who wants portability.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Netbooks
by capricorn_tm on Wed 26th Nov 2008 04:24 UTC in reply to "RE: Netbooks"
capricorn_tm Member since:
2005-12-31

Why would I pay 350 US dollars for a netbook that has 512MB ram and 4GB hard drive? What can you run on these specs? Can you give a presentation? can you play youtube HD videos?


I have to disagree my friend, those are the specs of the Eeepc 701 that I happily own.

To answer the questions, yes it can, everything you said.

I just suspend the "Youtube HD" thing. I found out just yesterday that this existed.

Will try and report

Reply Score: 1

RE: Netbooks
by Delgarde on Wed 26th Nov 2008 01:41 UTC in reply to "Netbooks"
Delgarde Member since:
2008-08-19

What is the purpose of buying a netbook if you can do similar things using an iPhone for example?


Oh, and my problem with the iPhone is that it's the wrong size for me. At nearly twice the size of my current phone (an old Alcatel), it's too big to comfortably keep in a pocket. So for all it's undeniably cool features, it's not actually useful to me as a cellphone.

Given that, I think the iPod Touch makes more sense, in that it doesn't try to be a phone. Something like that, I can chuck in a bag, and not worry about when I'm not actively using it.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Netbooks
by mabhatter on Fri 28th Nov 2008 06:56 UTC in reply to "Netbooks"
mabhatter Member since:
2005-07-17

That's the reason Apple won't do a netbook. The Touch is their low end computing and it has a definite identity.. it's a real iPod and plays real music, real movies, real games out of the box. I think they need some kind of keyboard accessory because that part is awkward, but there's no reason for a netbook from Apple. The current netbook has no identity. The only real company pushing for a netbook identity is Canonical with the netbook release of Ubuntu. All the other players see it as a "laptop computer" -lite. Microsoft successfully sold full-size windows on these and that's it.

I see decent netbooks about $350 like the Aspire at Walmart, it would make a great baby-mac but would be more limited than the current macbook with no firewire and no gpu. But an iPod Touch is cheaper, and will do better at most of the aspects. Windows has no functions in place to deal with such an accessory in terms of syncing or applications that have improved usability. The macs at least have stricter HIG so such a thing might be usable. A netbook should be for purses or briefcases as something for a travel bag with a camera to edit content, to make posts at wi-fi spots. Apple's touch and iPhone fall down because they have no input for managing things like pictures from cameras and content creation is painful at best. Linux based netbooks could do the job, but codex support is spotty... after all the camera and other manufactures of input or content creation want to deal only with full size Windows installs. The adware and nagware alone will kill these little machines when every accessory expects 100MB drivers. Something with a distinct identity like the Ubuntu remix is what's needed but OEMs have no interest in something new and better when most of the customers want cheap XP clones.

Reply Score: 2

the air is their netbook
by google_ninja on Wed 26th Nov 2008 00:08 UTC
google_ninja
Member since:
2006-02-05

I read an interview with an apple guy awhile back about the air, and he said they tried a bunch of different concepts for an ultraportable, including netbook sizes, but decided to go for full sized but very thin.

Reply Score: 5

RE: the air is their netbook
by Johann Chua on Wed 26th Nov 2008 04:03 UTC in reply to "the air is their netbook"
Johann Chua Member since:
2005-07-22

But the Air is more expensive than the regular MacBook, which is the opposite of netbook PCs.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: the air is their netbook
by google_ninja on Wed 26th Nov 2008 15:52 UTC in reply to "RE: the air is their netbook"
google_ninja Member since:
2006-02-05

the most popular netbooks are insanely cheap (and very low quality in terms of parts/chassis), but when you look at the lines from the larger vendors (dell/lenovo/hp) or the upper end of the cheaper vendors (acer/asus/msi) youll find the machines pushing 5-600$. Granted, that is not a grand, but in apple economics that is an equivilent price range.

Reply Score: 2

RE: the air is their netbook
by mrpsbrk on Wed 26th Nov 2008 10:27 UTC in reply to "the air is their netbook"
mrpsbrk Member since:
2008-11-26

The AIR is in fact their netbook, and it is has been around for almost the same time as the EeePC. They probably do not put things in those terms, but they are not defining the market by the cost, but instead by the way you handle the thing. In this respect, the AIR is pretty much the same thing: very light, very easy to carry around, but probably not really your main computer. Well, prices are important, but maybe there is a whole lot more about so-called "netbooks"...

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: the air is their netbook
by darknexus on Wed 26th Nov 2008 11:49 UTC in reply to "RE: the air is their netbook"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

The AIR is in fact their netbook, and it is has been around for almost the same time as the EeePC. They probably do not put things in those terms, but they are not defining the market by the cost, but instead by the way you handle the thing. In this respect, the AIR is pretty much the same thing: very light, very easy to carry around, but probably not really your main computer. Well, prices are important, but maybe there is a whole lot more about so-called "netbooks"...

Personally, I'd call the Air a subnotebook rather than a Netbook. Technically, Netbooks are basically sub sub notebooks with a low price tag, but as that word seems to have caught on we might as well use it. The Air is thin and light, but not quite small enough to be a netbook with a 13-inch screen and full-sized keyboard and trackpad. Netbooks are basically something you can carry in your brief case or maybe even a jacket pocket, pull it out on a moment's notice and use it on the palm of your hand if necessary. The Air is just a bit too big for this. And then of course there's the price tag--it's a competitively priced sub notebook, but definitely doesn't fit a netbook in this category.

Reply Score: 2

Redefining "Low End Mac"
by Morgan on Wed 26th Nov 2008 01:45 UTC
Morgan
Member since:
2005-06-29

There is a large subset of Mac users who rarely buy new Macs, instead relying on older hardware for work and play. Some even still use OS9 era machines. There is a website dedicated to this faction of Mac users, called lowendmac.com. I myself fall under this definition; the only new Mac I ever bought was a G4 mini and my current machines were bought well-used.

A Mac netbook -- let's call it a "Nano" for now -- would redefine the term "Low End Mac" in my opinion. If Apple released a Macbook Nano with the same specs as the current crop of netbooks -- 1.6GHz Atom processor, Intel graphics, 1GB of memory and either a small SSD or a 80GB+ storage drive -- I can see a lot of people dropping their G4 iBooks and PowerBooks for that. Just the fact that it would run Leopard very well, combined with the small size and the phenomenal battery life Apple is famous for would sway most folks. I know that I would hand off my PowerBook G3 to the kids in favor of one, even at $600 or so.

Such a device would truly bridge one of the two massive gaps in Apple's lineup. Given that and an upgradeable micro tower slotted between the mini and the Pro, Apple would have a machine for every level of consumer computing needs.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Redefining "Low End Mac"
by PortResi on Wed 26th Nov 2008 05:41 UTC in reply to "Redefining "Low End Mac""
PortResi Member since:
2008-10-06

There is a large subset of Mac users who rarely buy new Macs, instead relying on older hardware for work and play.


I was not one of those Mac users. Once Apple went Intel, I, after having had my fill of windows systems administration, purchased a Mini. It's the form factor I like.

Having said this I would like to purchase a few of the older Macs.

Some even still use OS9 era machines. There is a website dedicated to this faction of Mac users, called lowendmac.com.


There are some faculty on the campus who still have extremely early Mac models and refuse to give them up. This is even after they are offered new Dell PCs with the latest windows incarnation.

Such a device would truly bridge one of the two massive gaps in Apple's lineup. Given that and an upgradeable micro tower slotted between the mini and the Pro, Apple would have a machine for every level of consumer computing needs.


My Mini runs OS X, Debian and even the Redmond beast in a caged VMWare container. I could and quite possibly be wrong but I'm not sure how viable a netbook Mac would be in the crowded so-called lower end PCs.

Reply Score: 1

Chances? Slim but certainly not non-existent
by -APT- on Wed 26th Nov 2008 02:53 UTC
-APT-
Member since:
2007-03-20

The only way Apple manages to sell their products at a premium price is the fact that they try to get a good combination of features into all their machines - even the lowest MacBook. Multi-touch pad, decent graphics card, etc.

If they priced a netbook with the right features at the right price it could be a great machine. Not aiming for the bottom of the netbook market but instead going for the top. We all know that the MacBook Air is just too costly for a more portable laptop, something which Apple didn't get quite right. A decent price netbook would be more popular.

The chances of it happening are incredibly low though.

Edited 2008-11-26 02:53 UTC

Reply Score: 1

comment by J.R.
by J.R. on Wed 26th Nov 2008 05:17 UTC
J.R.
Member since:
2007-07-25

Given Apples track-record and the current specs/value of current computers I would assume their netbook would have half the memory and cost twice as much as the Asus/Acer ones. Yay!

Seriously...I can deal with the price, but its a real punch in the face that when you pay extra for apple branded hardware you get less memory than the cheapest acer computers. Especially since memory has been real cheap lately...even the cheapest laptops are shipped with 4 GB of memory by default (at least where I live), while apples "cheap" laptop still has 1 GB by default.

A 256 MB memory apple branded netbook? No thanks.

Edited 2008-11-26 05:18 UTC

Reply Score: 2

More for the same? Ha!
by Lobotomik on Wed 26th Nov 2008 07:30 UTC
Lobotomik
Member since:
2006-01-03

> Apple's core belief is "offer more for the same price,
> instead of offering the same for a lower price"

HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!

Oh, Sorry, I though you were talking about new Apple products as compared to their own previous ones... Yeah, if it is product updates, the above is true.

But for new products, Apple's core belief is "offer less (RAM, graphics, CPU, DVD burner capabilities), with some small attractive perks (multitouch, magnetic cable), in a beautiful package, with a nice OS, at a higher price". But then, it comes with their built in Attitude, and that is priceless.

Turtlenecks irritate my skin.

Reply Score: 3

Apple netbook == larger iPod Touch
by torbenm on Wed 26th Nov 2008 08:25 UTC
torbenm
Member since:
2007-04-23

I agree that a scaled-down MacBook would cannibalize sales of the existing MacBooks, but an Apple netbook doesn't need to be that. I think it is more likely that it will be based on iPhone/iPod Touch technology.

Ideally, it would sport a turnable screen, so you can use it as a tablet or as a laptop (like Intel's Classmate). It would need a slightly stronger ARM chip, but rumours have it that Apple is developing an ARM SoC (around a licensed ARM core) for the next-generation iPhone at their newly-acquired PA Semi chip developer. It could well have specifications that could drive a netbook.

Apple might revive their iBook brand for this, to emphasize the relation to iPhone and iPod.

Reply Score: 3

The answer is no
by DevL on Wed 26th Nov 2008 09:55 UTC
DevL
Member since:
2005-07-06

Apple doesn't live on budget products with low margins. Simple as that.

Reply Score: 2

They did it wrong with price tagging.
by eduardp on Wed 26th Nov 2008 13:12 UTC
eduardp
Member since:
2006-09-01

Now they don't know how to go back.

MacBookAir is like MacBook except that it had an smaller CPU-GPU, no CDrom, less disk and less external connectors. So, in fact is cheaper to manufacture (surely it's more expensive to develop, but they already did it).
So if MacBook is priced at 999, it makes total sense MacBookAir would be priced at 799 or 899. Maybe with smaller HD (put a 16GB or 32GB flash). Here you have your Netbook. I'm sure they can sell it for that price.

NetBook is a second Notebook you use when you don't wanna carry the big one.

The price is not really a problem. You can buy a watch for a dollar yet we all surely have watches that were priced at 100 dollars or more.

So cool aluminium well powered 899 MacBookAir Netbooks can easily compete with plastic 300 dollars eeepcs.

But 1799 is too much for a third computer (2499 if you want comparable power with 999 macbooks).

And here is were the problem comes. How do you sell your customers that a cheaper to manufacture MacbookAir costs two MacBooks and that is stupid?

How do you sell your apple fans it makes no sense and you are going to turn things arround? I don't see Steve able to do it. Yet I wanna see they day he sells it. Every Apple fan will believe he is almost god, while in fact he will be simply arranging a huge mistake they made.

Edited 2008-11-26 13:16 UTC

Reply Score: 2

darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Um, excuse me dude, but I see more people like you who diss the Apple fanboys than I actually see Apple fanboys. Tone it down.
That being said, I agree with you on most of it, though the revised Airs do have the same GPU as the current Macbooks. But they could easily bring the price of the Air down, it has mostly to do with Apple's mentality that the Air is a sub notebook, and not a netbook. Basically, according to them (and to every other sub notebook manufacturer) you're paying for the privilege of having an almost full-powered computer in an ultrathin, ultralight design. Compare the specs of the Air to any netbook and tell me honestly which one's got the power. The Air is actually priced quite nicely when compared to sub notebooks from the likes of Sony and others. What they need to do is put the Air in a smaller case, maybe reduce processing and/or GPU power along the way, as a netbook doesn't need the power that you'd need in a ful Desktop or Laptop. Leave the hd alone, or maybe replace it with a 2.5 hd rather than the 1.8 it's got in there now. Don't use the crappy SSDs used in the likes of the Aspire 1. Ad a few more USB ports and an ethernet port, and that would be one nice Netbook right there that they could easily sell for $699. I wouldn't expect them to sell one for $399, I doubt Apple would ever do that--mentality again.

Reply Score: 1

Tech not ready
by asupcb on Wed 26th Nov 2008 15:22 UTC
asupcb
Member since:
2005-11-10

I personally don't think that Apple will release anything until the next iteration of the Atom processor and platform which from what I heard will offer a vast improvement over the current Atom platform. Also the new screen tech from Pixel Qi should be out in time for all the netbooks in the 3Q/4Q '09 and should greatly boost battery life.

I wanted to hold out until next year to get a new laptop but I really need one for my current job and my current desktop is 6 years old so it is time for an upgrade I think. So I'm buying a new laptop during Christmas sales and then I'm going to buy a netbook next year after they receive their next round of upgrades and improved form factors.

Do you guys think that Apple might choose to use an ARM processor in their netbook instead of an Atom processor?

Reply Score: 2

RE: Tech not ready
by darknexus on Wed 26th Nov 2008 17:04 UTC in reply to "Tech not ready"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

I doubt Apple would use Arm in a netbook, assuming of course they wind up making one in the first place. As cool as Arm is for this sort of device, a netbook is basically a low-powered laptop. Using Arm would break compatibility with every OS X application out there, which would not be desirable on a netbook. Granted, they could do an emulation layer like they did with PPC and Rosetta, but I just can't see Apple wanting all existing software to run under emulation. As asinine as they can sometimes be, they're not stupid, and netbooks are slow enough without adding an emulation layer into the mix.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Tech not ready
by Delgarde on Wed 26th Nov 2008 19:59 UTC in reply to "RE: Tech not ready"
Delgarde Member since:
2008-08-19

I doubt Apple would use Arm in a netbook, assuming of course they wind up making one in the first place. As cool as Arm is for this sort of device, a netbook is basically a low-powered laptop.


Agreed - netbooks aren't anything particularly revolutionary, they're very small laptops. And as such, the expectation is that they be able to do anything the larger models can do - they run a full desktop OS (be it XP or Linux), and should be able to run any application that can run on that OS. Using a chip not compatible with those apps would be a bad idea.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Tech not ready
by sbergman27 on Wed 26th Nov 2008 20:18 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Tech not ready"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

Agreed - netbooks aren't anything particularly revolutionary, they're very small laptops.

Actually, they *are* revolutionary. Instead of commanding a price *premium* for being smaller, they cost *less*, bucking a long and nonsensical tradition of overpriced Vaios, etc. That, and the size means it can be taken anywhere. And if the owner accidentally drops it in the toilet... it's only $249 to replace it and not $2490. That's revolutionary because of the effect it has on usage patterns.

And as such, the expectation is that they be able to do anything the larger models can do

Not sure about that. People's expectations vary, of course. But I suspect that most really want an *appliance* in that form factor. When I bought my EEE PC, I *thought* I wanted a small laptop and put Fedora, and then Ubuntu on it. I ended up back with the default, Asus-customized Xandros in "easy" mode because I realized that I really wanted an appliance with a simple, easy, and fast interface. In fact, there was a thread on the EEE PC user board discussing whether users preferred/used "easy" or "advanced" mode. "Advanced" mode is a standard KDE desktop. "Easy" is a customized, more appliance like mode. "Easy" was the *overwhelming* winner in that very long thread with many, many participants.

they run a full desktop OS (be it XP or Linux)

True. And for Linux, the software selection is processor agnostic.

Edited 2008-11-26 20:26 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Tech not ready
by Delgarde on Wed 26th Nov 2008 22:33 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Tech not ready"
Delgarde Member since:
2008-08-19

True. And for Linux, the software selection is processor agnostic.


Theoretically, yes - most packages can be compiled for almost any architecture that Linux itself will run, and that's fine if you don't mind compiling things yourself.

But really, pulling binaries from a repository is much more convenient most of the time, and in that context, x86 and x86-64 are much better supported than anything else.

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: Tech not ready
by sbergman27 on Wed 26th Nov 2008 22:53 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Tech not ready"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

Theoretically, yes - most packages can be compiled for almost any architecture that Linux itself will run, and that's fine if you don't mind compiling things yourself.

Err... its 2008. I haven't had to compile software myself for my ARM PDAs, BCM3302-based (MIPS architecture) routers, or anything else, for years. And ARM is fully supported by Debian's large repos.

If I need a web browser on my LinkSys WRT54GL wireless router, I just:

# ipkg install elinks

and the browser and any dependencies are installed in seconds. Same command for my PDAs and most other small devices.

There is nothing "theoretical" about Linux's processor agnosticism, even at the "convenience" level.

Edited 2008-11-26 22:57 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Tech not ready
by torbenm on Thu 27th Nov 2008 09:11 UTC in reply to "RE: Tech not ready"
torbenm Member since:
2007-04-23

Using Arm would break compatibility with every OS X application out there


iPhone runs a version of OS X, so I can't see this being true. In any case, my point was that an ARM-based Apple netbook would be made so as not to compete with MacBook, so Apple would not want all Mac applications on this, but focus more on iPhone-style applications.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Tech not ready
by darknexus on Thu 27th Nov 2008 09:30 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Tech not ready"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

So basically, you're envisioning a bigger, perhaps more fully featured, version of the iPod Touch?

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Tech not ready
by torbenm on Fri 28th Nov 2008 08:23 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Tech not ready"
torbenm Member since:
2007-04-23

So basically, you're envisioning a bigger, perhaps more fully featured, version of the iPod Touch?


Yup, plus a keyboard.

Reply Score: 1

ARM and cheaper computers
by SuperDaveOsbourne on Wed 26th Nov 2008 17:55 UTC
SuperDaveOsbourne
Member since:
2007-06-24

First off, I have felt the Depression of the economic collapse. If you have not then you are either ultra rich, ultra positioned for collapse in the markets, or already broke and don't feel the change in lifestyle that has caused many including rich and poor alike to be shocked by how bad things are and continue to evolve.

As for Apple, they will enter the market with ultra powerful and cheap systems to market. Apple can NOT survive on the top tier consumers forever in this economy, or any other. As a company grows, it must deal with that growth with continued margins and market share growth. Current Apple consumers can only have so many devices, thus a need for more consumers. Apple margins from Intel product are too small to support the needed gross margins needed for top tier product marketing, and support. End result, apple has no way to go but into the cheap (maybe netbook) markets. Expect 500-700 dollar computers that are mobile focused and on ARM based. By end of 2010 all apple products (with the exception of being *maybe* servers will be ARM based), with massively parallel solutions in place for consumer and optionally server based solutions. Its the move of the market, and the demand of hardware limits as well as consumer needs.

Reply Score: 1

RE: ARM and cheaper computers
by Ravyne on Wed 26th Nov 2008 19:39 UTC in reply to "ARM and cheaper computers"
Ravyne Member since:
2006-01-08

Really? You think Apple is going to undertake yet another architecture switch across nearly their entire product line? I think that what you're smoking is perhaps a bit stronger than your usual batch ;)

Now, you're not entirely off the mark, Apple already uses a lot of ARM chips in their iPods and iPhones, newer versions of which run a modified OSX system. I could see them migrating the AppleTV to ARM (one of the newer SOCs with hardware video decoding and moderate 3D capabilities, like the Omap3530) or even an ARM-based netbook, possibly (which would allow them greater control, lower BOM, and differentiation from their macbook line). They have a lot of freedom with the guts of these types appliances with no pesky legacy to carry on.

They will not, however, ever be able to migrate their computer line to ARM. As neat as ARM is, are there even any ARM cores which compete on performance with the old Pentium 3s? ARM is wonderful at a lot of things, and in a lot of places, but you simply can't pretend that its a balls-to-the-wall speed-demon the way that Intel's current processor are. Yes, you could toss a few cores into one package, significantly more than what Intel's latest are able to, but that only helps if the whole system is multi-threaded from the floor-up -- OS, Drivers, run-times, applications. Even then, I don't think the potential numbers advantage ARM might enjoy would make up for the speed advantage Intel already has. You'd probably need 4-8 times as many ARM cores to even catch up on paper, let alone in practice. It would be like 300, and ARM ain't no Sparta. If throwing cores at the problem paid dividends in the current software climate, Intel would have already thrown 32 Atom cores on a die and called it good.

Reply Score: 2

v The American economy...
by Lisa P on Thu 27th Nov 2008 07:00 UTC
Tablet...
by thavith_osn on Thu 27th Nov 2008 07:38 UTC
thavith_osn
Member since:
2005-07-11

My guess is that Apple will introduce a tablet into this market. It will basically be a touch screen that you can plug a keyboard and mouse into if you wish.

The bridge between the iPhone and the MacBook.

It wouldn't surprise me to find that Snow Leopard is part of this strategy. I get the feeling cocoa touch may not be just for the iPhone, but we shall see... If Snow Leopard is being pushed out in early 2009 then this may be one of the reasons...

That would take care of the notebook market as far as Apple was concerned...

Anyway, that is just my guess...

Reply Score: 2

The economics of bundling
by alcibiades on Thu 27th Nov 2008 09:30 UTC
alcibiades
Member since:
2005-10-12

The essence of the Apple problem is what they bundle, and how they handle price comparisons. Their usual strategy is to pick some high endish bundle that no other vendor would major on. So for instance, a high end quad processor, small disks, obsolete low end graphics card, not much memory.

The effect is that the buyer then loads it up with more memory, probably extra disk space, to make a halfway reasonable configuration. However, the Mac enthusiast takes the original system, which no-one in their right mind would regard as sensibly balanced, and duplicates it by doing a custom build from someone like Dell. He is then able to say with triumph that Macs are cheaper. To duplicate this dysfunctional configuration from Dell costs more than to buy it from Apple.

This is true, because Dell, HP and so on have directed their efforts to making cost effective standard configurations, and the original Mac configuration is not among them.

The same strategy can be pursued with higher end laptops - and it can to some extent be pursued at the low end if you major on some irrelevant capability which no-one else is going for, as with the Mini, where you cannot duplicate at the same price those specs PLUS the ability to carry it in a coat pocket. Not that that last characteristic is any use to many people, but its very useful for marketing comparisons.

However, the strategy cannot be done, or cannot be done easily, at the very low end, the netbook segment. They are so small and so stripped down and so cheap that its hard to see what unique configuration or what irrelevant physical dimension can be introduced to make it non-comparable.

So one would predict one of two things will happen. Either Apple will not introduce a netbook. Or, it will introduce one because its found some dimension to give it which none of the competition found worth pursuing. It might be able to. After all, it found, in the Air, a curious mixture of lack of features and unusual dimensions and appearance that has made the game at least playable. It did find in the Mini a unique form factor. We shouldn't underestimate their abilities in this respect.

But, its going to be tough, and my own bet would be, they will not try it, or if they do, they will fail. Most likely, they will not try.

Which means that the netbook market is a really serious challenge. It is a growing segment from which their chosen marketing strategy effectively excludes them. But it is becoming more and more of the market all the time. And its part of the consumer appliance market which is where they dominate right now. They cannot ignore it, but the probably can't target it either. Not coincidentally, the shares are down by 50% from their highs....

Reply Score: 3

of course they will
by unclefester on Fri 28th Nov 2008 09:19 UTC
unclefester
Member since:
2007-01-13

Apple will introduce this. Apple always ridicules anything they don't produce. They then introduce it when forced to. Steve put a huge effort into telling us how much better PPC was than x86 - just before just dumping it.

Reply Score: 2