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Netbook…

2009/04/13

A few questions here, Everyone in the consumer technology field has noted the near vertical rise of the netbook. But there are a few questions out there that I would like to voice… Some that, I think, now, need to be asked.

The first is simply this… how long, in the scope of a global recession, will this near vertical climb in profit last?
The reason that I now have to ask is the fact that the market crowded itself over night, within the space of a few months. You have Acer, Asus, Lenovo/IBM, HP, Dell all producing more that one model over a year. This is simply the major players in the space, that is not to add in the many other smaller manufacturers that has tosses there hat into this ring.
To look at this carefully, that is simply not healthy for the long term… assuming of course that netbooks are intended to have a longevity of the form factor in mind. Or will the market turn into the mobile market with a near insane turnover rate with model

Second question… The OLPC question. To think, a lot of those big names have kids to thank for this. Reason being that before the term netbook was added to the lexicon, before anyone thought that something at this form factor would work… this rather small project to deliver a laptop for kids at $100 tried it. To this day, the laptop that was produced (called the XO-1) still has things in it that is rather forward thinking.
But there is the question… will the XO-2 (the successor to the XO-1) add itself into this market, and if so… how will it stand out from the others (aside from the multi-touch screens)?

Third, the obligatory Apple question, Will Apple Inc. join in the race of a market that is, at it’s core, a race to the bottom?
Is it even possible for Apple, a company that sees itself as a luxury/high-end brand, to produce a netbook… at low cost?

Fouth, the obligatory Mircosoft question. For the most part, Mircosoft has been moving quickly to cover the hole left at the start of the netbook boom. For the most part, MS control over the retail channels has help it become available on most systems. Driving out, Linux from the brick and mortar retail marketplace (for now).
But how long will this last before it’s seen as anti-competitive? and will 7 (which does far better than Vista on these small devices, but is still limited on netbooks) be seen on more of them?

Fifth, the obligatory Linux question. As said above, at least in North America… you can’t walk into a major electronics store (like best buy) and buy one of these with a distro of linux on it (unless it’s a Dell). Which is odd, since in the netbook space, Linux development happens to be the most vibrant… from the OLPC and Sugar, to the first ‘netbook’, Acer’s EeePC 701, to nearly very other producer of a netbook, a form of linux is on most. Just not in the traditional retail channel (i.e. Best Buy), or in some cases, hidden quite well on the online channel…
When might it been seen as more visible? Since it’s out there, in spades, and continues to improve. Maybe moving to ARM could help the smaller companies? Or could Linux on netbook’s have already hit it’s tipping point?

The Sixth question, AMD…. will and when might they be seen in this market? Since to be honest, it might be one of the few things that keeps Intel honest. Not that I have an issue with the Atom or Intel in general. But more competition will push Intel to keep innovating, and the same goes for AMD. And in this rather rapid race…. some honestly is need.

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