Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 27th Apr 2009 15:07 UTC
Editorial Last week, Apple again repeated its claim that the iPhone and iPod Touch are capable of filling the netbook niche. They also claimed that netbooks can barely be called personal computers. Both of these statements are complete and utter nonsense, but instead of writing down some high-level definition of what a netbook is, I decided to simply write down all the things I do with my netbook that the iPhone/iPod Touch cannot do to make the difference between the two that much more tangible.
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Term Confusion
by josborne on Mon 27th Apr 2009 18:34 UTC
josborne
Member since:
2009-04-27

I think people are confused as to the actual meaning of the term "netbook". There is certainly no universal agreement on what a netbook is.

Some folks are arguing it is a small, inexpensive laptop. And like any laptop, you can install different OS's, upgrade the hardware, and run a variety of off-the-shelf conventional software (whether it be Windows based or *nix).

Other folks see the netbook as a new category defined by it's functionality. In this case, a netbook is a small and convenient companion device used to do some surfing, e-mail, and other basic functions. It is generally necessary for these devices to be always or very frequently connected to the Internet.

I tend to fall into the second category, because we do not need a new, special word for a small and inexpensive laptop. It is what it is.

However, the type of device exemplified by the iPhone and iPod Touch is different and deserves a new term. I personally don't care if that term is "netbook" or "pda" or "XYZ", but I see that this is a new niche for products to develop.

I think what Apple has said on the subject, combined with what we know of their previous strategy and business model is very clear. They are unlikely to be able to make an inexpensive and small laptop meeting their build and performance requirements at a price and margin that makes sense with their high margin business model.

Few (if any) companies are getting rich from the current crop of "netbooks". It only makes sense for Apple to tackle that market if they can make good money and margins while still providing an experience that will be highly positive and hopefully drive people to buy their higher-end products.

I honestly do not understand why there appears to be so much heat when discussing this. "netbook" is just one word. And Apple is just one company

The real interest (for me) is in imagining how things are changing in the computer space to emphasize portability and always-on connectivity. Now, it is not very hard to imagine us all being connected all the time, even though this seemed like an impossible/impractical dream 10-15 years ago.

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