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.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Term Confusion
by lqsh on Mon 27th Apr 2009 18:49 in reply to "Term Confusion"
lqsh Member since:
2007-01-01

It also depends on what your version 'small' means. A Netbook is a smaller laptop, but I wouldn't call it small by any means.

If your netbook has 3G or wifi, I'd call that a 'net'book. If it doesn't, it's just a small laptop. In that regard I'd call an iPhone a netbook.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: Term Confusion
by Bobthearch on Mon 27th Apr 2009 18:56 in reply to "Term Confusion"
Bobthearch Member since:
2006-01-27

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.

Yep, and I don't see the point in worrying too much about labels - it's what the manufacturers call it, and that's that. If someone makes yet another class of portable computer, either larger or smaller or with a different task focus, they'll probably name it something different too.

Few (if any) companies are getting rich from the current crop of "netbooks".

To the contrary, netbooks seem to be floating several companies at a time when worldwide computer sales have dropped significantly:

The company reached a considerable achievements in the deliveries of motherboards and graphic cards, but the most profitable for ASUS remains the release of mobile computers (47% income).

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 don't see why they can't. Build a mini-laptop to the same specs as a $350 Asus, give it a slightly different case shape with an Apple logo, pre-install OSX, and sell it for $450. I don't personally care whether they do it or not, but I think it would be a huge seller among Apple fans and curious new customers.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: Term Confusion
by phoenix on Mon 27th Apr 2009 22:31 in reply to "Term Confusion"
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

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).


Hrm, like a "palmtop" computer? All the capabilities of a normal "laptop", but scaled down to easily rest on the palm of your hand? ;)

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.


Hrm, still sounds like a palmtop computer to me. ;)

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.


But it's not really a "lap"top computer, as you would not use it (at least for more than a minute or two) resting on your lap. But it's more than useful when resting on the palm of one hand, leaving the other hand available for navigation/typing. Hence, "palmtop". ;)

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.


"PCD" would probably fit better. Personal Computing Device. Or maybe "MID" for Mobile Internet Device (isn't Intel pushing that term for things about the size of an iPhone/iPod Touch, with similar capabilities?). Or "UMD" for Ultra Mobile Device. ;)

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: Term Confusion
by Carewolf on Tue 28th Apr 2009 14:40 in reply to "Term Confusion"
Carewolf Member since:
2005-09-08

A netbook is a small laptop with ubiquios networks connections WiFi/G3.
A smartphone is a phone that does more than the usual phone-task, including calendar and internet and small office-suites.

There is no need to invent a new word for iPhones, and they will never be a netbook. Though a netbook with 3G is a large cheap smartphone if you install the right application.

Reply Parent Score: 1