What's Next for the Netbook Market?


JDD090910-mobilize-D71_3072While smartphone sales have proliferated, netbooks are a burgeoning market that was put in the spotlight when Google (s goog) announced its Chrome OS this summer. Though netbooks aren’t a new player in the tech space, it’s undeniable that consumers’ interest in these devices is rising — but why now? Sure, netbooks are cheap, which is a positive, given the struggling economy, as Mark Spoonauer, editor in chief at LAPTOP Magazine, noted today during a panel at our Mobilize conference. But netbooks also bring together the portability and wireless connectivity that consumers are craving, each of the panelists agreed. While smartphones are a quick fix for information gathering, netbooks are designed for people who want to do more than three minutes of web browsing, said Brian Pitstick, GM of Ultra Mobile Devices at Dell (s dell).

As the netbook market expands, service providers have the chance to step up and capitalize on the opportunity to support web connectivity on netbooks, according to Keith Kressin, senior director of marketing and product management for Qualcomm (s qcom). This would be particularly beneficial in emerging markets, where netbook demand is expected to grow rapidly, according to Anil Nanduri, Intel’s (s intc) director of Netbook Marketing. Carriers that are taking advantage of the netbook market include AT&T (s n) and Verizon (s vzn), which are currently selling netbooks at discounts but charge consumers $60 a month for unlimited capped data.

The next step for netbooks is to integrate multi-touch screens into the hardware, which presents a stumbling block for companies, as that will likely increase prices. “If you want to drive mass adoption, that price point has to come down,” said Dell’s Pitstick, noting that customers won’t be keen to purchase a $2,000 multi-touch tablet. Though nothing was said yesterday at the Apple (s appl) news event about its rumored tablet, the panelists shifted in their seats when one audience member asked them about it. Pitstick said that the netbook space has room for “various vendors,” while Kressin noted that innovation in the space is always a good thing.



The proliferation of netbooks are going to complicate wireless device management for big companies. As more employees use them in addition to/in replace of smart devices, it’s a financial headache x 2.


Netbooks aren’t any different from other electronics. The biggest change is going to be a decrease in size with an increase in price. Netbook makers have hated the competition with the OLPC and wanted to get closer to the Macbook Air. It’s better for their image and better for their bottom line.

People don’t need RJ45 connections, and VGA connectors. Removing these two alone would help slim these big boys down. Also it seems like there’s going to be a move to improve screen resolution and to have more use of LED backlighting.

Windows 7 is going to be the biggest gamechanger. I’m going to install it on my 1001HE somehow and hope that it will breathe new life into it.

Microsoft may not let netbooks have more than 1GB of RAM or 160GB of Hard drive space, but it seems like a no brainer for netbooks to come with 2GB or RAM and 250GB hard drives. The stuff is cheap enough.

Jeremy Leipzig

I think there is a swelling demand for fast 10″ 2GB netbooks with dvi output and video that can easily drive 1920×1200 external monitors. Bascially people want a powerful mobile cpu, use the laptop monitor in a pinch, but treat as a full power desktop when not mobile.

rajeev bajpai

Its an interesting observation by Patrick that netbook is liked by people who wanna do more than 3 minutes of web surfing. The other thing which coems to my mind is people want to use smartphones for voice centric applications and perhaps Netbooks for data centric applications owing to bigger display and bigger keyboard. Otherwise overtime it would be difficult to differentiate between smartphone – netbook and a notebook. Its essentially a form factor battle made interesting by the telecom carriers. The product will continue to evolve and more feverently adopted by consumers.

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