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The Future of Subnotebook Pricing

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the cheap-things-come-to-those-who-wait dept.

Portables 145

Corpuscavernosa recommends a story from InternetNews about the development of the subnotebook market. The author notes the beginnings of a trend toward selling the devices bundled with certain services rather than as standalone products. He notes two examples; a free Asus Eee PC with a broadband package, and another for opening a bank account. Quoting: "Soon, the market will be overwhelmed by what I like to call 'mini me too' laptops -- commodity Asus clones that will drive margins for all players toward zero. There will be no real money to be made in direct sales of cheap mini-notebooks to consumers. I'm predicting that the successful pricing model for 'mini me too' laptops will look nothing like the notebook pricing model (where you always pay full price for the hardware), and a lot like the cell phone pricing model where you buy a service, and the hardware is heavily subsidized or given away free."

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better days ahead, no gadgets required (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23693131)

the lights are coming up all over now. conspiracy theorists are being vindicated. some might choose a tin umbrella to go with their hats. the fairytail is winding down now. let your conscience be yOUR guide. you can be more helpful than you might have imagined. there are still some choices. if they do not suit you, consider the likely results of continuing to follow the corepirate nazi hypenosys story LIEn, whereas anything of relevance is replaced almost instantly with pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking propaganda or 'celebrity' trivia 'foam'. meanwhile; don't forget to get a little more oxygen on yOUR brain, & look up in the sky from time to time, starting early in the day. there's lots going on up there.

http://news.google.com/?ncl=1216734813&hl=en&topic=n
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/31/opinion/31mon1.html?em&ex=1199336400&en=c4b5414371631707&ei=5087%0A
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/29/world/29amnesty.html?hp
http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/06/02/nasa.global.warming.ap/index.html
http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/weather/06/05/severe.weather.ap/index.html
http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/weather/06/02/honore.preparedness/index.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/01/opinion/01dowd.html?em&ex=1212638400&en=744b7cebc86723e5&ei=5087%0A
http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/06/05/senate.iraq/index.html

is it time to get real yet? A LOT of energy is being squandered in attempts to keep US in the dark. in the end (give or take a few 1000 years), the creators will prevail (world without end, etc...), as it has always been. the process of gaining yOUR release from the current hostage situation may not be what you might think it is. butt of course, most of US don't know, or care what a precarious/fatal situation we're in. for example; the insidious attempts by the felonious corepirate nazi execrable to block the suns' light, interfering with a requirement (sunlight) for us to stay healthy/alive. it's likely not good for yOUR health/memories 'else they'd be bragging about it? we're intending for the whoreabully deceptive (they'll do ANYTHING for a bit more monIE/power) felons to give up/fail even further, in attempting to control the 'weather', as well as a # of other things/events.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=weather+manipulation&btnG=Search
http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&q=video+cloud+spraying

dictator style micro management has never worked (for very long). it's an illness. tie that with life0cidal aggression & softwar gangster style bullying, & what do we have? a greed/fear/ego based recipe for disaster. meanwhile, you can help to stop the bleeding (loss of life & limb);

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/28/vermont.banning.bush.ap/index.html

the bleeding must be stopped before any healing can begin. jailing a couple of corepirate nazi hired goons would send a clear message to the rest of the world from US. any truthful look at the 'scorecard' would reveal that we are a society in decline/deep doo-doo, despite all of the scriptdead pr ?firm? generated drum beating & flag waving propaganda that we are constantly bombarded with. is it time to get real yet? please consider carefully ALL of yOUR other 'options'. the creators will prevail. as it has always been.

corepirate nazi execrable costs outweigh benefits
(Score:-)mynuts won, the king is a fink)
by ourselves on everyday 24/7

as there are no benefits, just more&more death/debt & disruption. fortunately there's an 'army' of light bringers, coming yOUR way. the little ones/innocents must/will be protected. after the big flash, ALL of yOUR imaginary 'borders' may blur a bit? for each of the creators' innocents harmed in any way, there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/us, as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile, will not be available. 'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet, & by your behaviors. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi glowbull warmongering execrable. some of US should consider ourselves somewhat fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate. it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc.... as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis. concern about the course of events that will occur should the life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order. 'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

meanwhile, the life0cidal philistines continue on their path of death, debt, & disruption for most of US. gov. bush denies health care for the little ones;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/03/bush.veto/index.html

whilst demanding/extorting billions to paint more targets on the bigger kids;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/12/bush.war.funding/index.html

& pretending that it isn't happening here;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article3086937.ece
all is not lost/forgotten/forgiven

(yOUR elected) president al gore (deciding not to wait for the much anticipated 'lonesome al answers yOUR questions' interview here on /.) continues to attempt to shed some light on yOUR foibles. talk about reverse polarity;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article3046116.ece

Cell Phones (4, Insightful)

mixmatch (957776) | more than 5 years ago | (#23693137)

People still buy unlocked phones don't they? Last time I checked, some of those suckers have pretty hefty price tags!

AMD geode (1, Troll)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 5 years ago | (#23693331)

If this is such a great hypothesis then why did things like the AMD geode or the recent (forgetting the name) $20/month balck box computer catch fire?

was the time just not right?

Also if you look at these mini PCs it seems like their are teirs on these. Some are low cost low power, some are higher cost higher power. when people talk about these on slashdot the conversation goes like this:

nerd 1: oooh the XO is only $100 or $200 dollars.

nerd 2: yeah but it's a dog. I could get an fluvio flivitron for only $100 more and it has a real graphics card.

etc...

so no one on slashdot is really interested in the low end machine other than to talk about it's price. (Except of course when the price-tards are trying to put down macs by claiming this or that POS is "the same" but costs less)

Re:AMD geode (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#23693397)

so no one on slashdot is really interested in the low end machine other than to talk about it's price


And it is the only way you can get a device with a decent OS (Linux) in a typical large store. Most of us don't like/hate/will return Vista so it makes since to support an OS we all like by getting a subnotebook as about the only other way you can get Linux pre-installed is go to a specialty computer store or online.

Low end minis (2, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#23693773)

I think they are of value to some techies, and with a lot of non techies they are even overkill.

Ever lug around a heavy laptop all day on service calls? Id have loved to have some of these things back then..

Re:Low end minis (1)

Sique (173459) | more than 5 years ago | (#23695847)

I always wished for such a small form factor portable computer as a means to console into some big iron. Since Psion is no longer with us, there was no such thing.

Re:Low end minis (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#23695949)

There was the HP 200lx, but not sure how IPX would have worked on them, or if there was network card. ( was a novell guy back in the old days )

But was good for the console port on a router.

Re:Low end minis (1)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 5 years ago | (#23696245)

I think that there is a serious market for something which fits between a notebook and a blackberry in terms of size and capability.

Laptops and desktops will stick around because that's what you need to do extended computing- sitting down for 30 minutes to several hours to work on a paper, a PowerPoint presentation, write some code, play a video game, or do graphic design. Anything smaller than the current MacBook or MacBook Air models would give me eye strain and carpal tunnel.

But I'd argue that as the internet and computers have become more ingrained into our lives, there are more and more short-term computing sessions- anywhere from five seconds to five minutes- where it would be handy to have something just a bit bigger than an iPhone or BlackBerry, but smaller than a full-scale laptop. Looking up directions or restaurants on Google Maps, finding movie showings, Googling some random fact, checking weather or stock prices, using Facebook, checking email, playing a quick video game. I'd say that the perfect size would be something that folds up to be a bit smaller than a CD case.

However, I disagree with the idea that the only way to make money on these is to sell services. At such small sizes, interface design is going to be everything; the iPod proves how good interface makes a difference, and how people are willing to pay for that. Apple and Brand X might both produce a pocket-size laptop with equivalent functionality, but if one has a better screen, keyboard, and touchpad, and packs those features into a smaller package with better battery life, it's going to sell better.

Re:AMD geode (1, Interesting)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 5 years ago | (#23694419)

(..) then why did things like the AMD geode or the recent (forgetting the name) $20/month balck box computer catch fire?
Got more info on that? In the case of the AMD Geode, I think you're mistaken. I've got one of these (Geode NX1750) lying around somewhere, and it's one of the coolest running chips you can find in a desktop (more likely found in industrial board, media player/set-top boxes or similar). Performs like an Athlon XP1600+, uses 25W tops (around 14W average). If you manage to overheat that, perhaps it'll smoke a bit, maybe crack, but not burn. CPU sockets surely use some flame-retardant material, and a metal CPU cooler doesn't help either to start a fire.

Me thinks you're talking about some machine with a Geode *in it* (maybe powersupply burnout), or perhaps a laptop battery catching fire?

Re:AMD geode (1)

Wdomburg (141264) | more than 5 years ago | (#23695833)

so no one on slashdot is really interested in the low end machine other than to talk about it's price

Sure we are. We're just not the ones saying how much better more expensive machines are.

Re:Cell Phones (4, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#23693755)

That was my thought too.

Going the route of the cell phone means there will be few 'unencumbered' laptops floating around and they will all be tied to some service, which will limit what you can and cant do with them.

Re:Cell Phones (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 5 years ago | (#23694431)

Most places sell unlocked phones with a contract, or with a prepaid credit. Or you can spend a few bucks/euros/pounds and get it unlocked at any of the places that offer it. Since the trend towards selling subsidized unlocked phones, the demand for unsubsidized unlocked phones has diminished greatly.

Re:Cell Phones (4, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#23694975)

"People still buy unlocked phones don't they? Last time I checked, some of those suckers have pretty hefty price tags!"

Not in the US they don't...most people in the US have no idea what a 'locked' phone means. They just accept it as normal that you sign up for 1-2 years, and each time you do that...you get a free, or cheap (price wise) phone.

If you tried to sell my US citizens a unsubsidized phone at what they really cost....they'd be flabbergasted...and then ask why the hell you'd want to do that?

like cell phones... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23693167)

and like cell phones, americans will all be tight arses and opt only for the free/subsidized notebooks, and yet wonder why their notebooks seem to be intentionally crippled, while europeans buy theirs outright and have everything work as it should

Re:like cell phones... (1)

TyrainDreams (982007) | more than 5 years ago | (#23693391)

and like cell phones, americans will all be tight arses and opt only for the free/subsidized notebooks, and yet wonder why their notebooks seem to be intentionally crippled, while europeans buy theirs outright and have everything work as it should
You have obviously never been to America or don't know any American's. Even people who get their teenagers phones get them those stupid QWERTY keyboard phones. If you get something free you know there is a reason why.

Re:like cell phones... (2, Informative)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#23693447)

I'm not sure where in Europe you've been to but most people I know get their phone on a contract (hence the reason they complained about being able to unlock their phone after the contract) and the only people that buy phones are PAYG customers who buy cheap old models or people buying a cheap old model phone for their kid.

From my experience the biggest difference is in Europe you get decent phones for free on a contract where as it's more common to pay something for the phone *and* have a contract in the US.

Re:like cell phones... (2, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#23693593)

From my experience the biggest difference is in Europe you get decent phones with the price hidden in your monthly subscription on a contract
Fixed that for you.

Re:like cell phones... (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#23694035)

Well duh but can you pay $250.00 for a Motorola MOTORAZRÂ V9m and having to take on a $40 p.m. 2 year contract in the US.

In the UK it's free on a £20 per month 18 month contract.

£20 is roughly $40 USD so you could say that per month it's the same cost except the US contract is 6 months longer and you paid $250.00 for the phone.

That's with a quick browse. I'm sure I could find someone offering half price line rental for x amount of months too. I think I did quite well when I got my HTC based Orange M3100 for free on a £25 per month contract when most people were having to pay like £50 or more on £40 per month or higher contracts. I got really lucky on that other than getting stuck with Orange and their shitty customer service. I think we just have more competition so they'll give better deals, imo.

I haven't bought a phone for awhile in the US so I'm not sure if they buy out contracts over there but if you were tired of the phone before your 18 months were up there is a fair chance you could switch early and the new provider will buy your remaining months on the old contract or you can stay on the same provider and get a free upgrade phone which probably will extend your contract but if you intended on staying with them that's a small price to pay for getting a second new phone.

Re:like cell phones... (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#23694223)

In the UK it's free on a £20 per month 18 month contract.
So it's free except for the fact that you pay for it. Given the punctuation - or lack of it - in your final paragraph perhaps you shouldn't use 'duh' so much - it's not entirely obvious that you're trying to be ironic.

Re:like cell phones... (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#23694909)

Paying something for the phone doesn't mean paying more for the phone is ok. The Razr 2 sim free is £170 on Play.com. £20 per month x 18 months is £360. After subtracting the cost of the phone that would work out to be a £10 per month contract. Sim-only contracts start at £15 per month.

So yes while you technically pay for the phone it is effectively free especially when compared to the States where you pay for the phone up front and in the contract and, in the particular deal I looked at, you get less minutes and text messages.

Re:like cell phones... (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#23695019)

Yes, but, in the EU, don't you generally pay more for the voice time you use than in the US? Many plans over here have tons of minutes, some that roll over each month....FREE long distance to anywhere in the US (most of us have no reason to call outside the US very often)...and with many plans, from 7pm - 6am...it is free and unlimited calling, same with weekends.

I thought I heard that the reason SMS texting became so popular over there, was the it was much more pricey to use the voice part of the phone, which after all, IS still the primary function of a phone, no?

Re:like cell phones... (1)

jshackney (99735) | more than 5 years ago | (#23695229)

I don't think we're talking apples and apples here.

I paid $95 for a MotoRAZR V3xx a few years ago when it was new. Yeah, it came with a 24 mo. contract. My wife got a new phone (Nokia), but not the latest and greatest, at the same time for $50. We both had rebates and hers basically worked to be free. We're on the same contract. We share minutes and never pay usage charges for overage (unless I'm out of the country--my employer reimburses those calls thankfully!) My bill is steady at $70 a month, and I have more rollover minutes than I know what to do with. Oh yeah, many cell providers (in the U.S. at least) will give discounts to government employees and credit union members. Sometimes the savings can cover the cost of the next better plan.

The one thing I'd like to see, however, is my monthly rate go down when my term elapses and I go month-to-month. But I doubt that will ever happen.

Re:like cell phones... (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 5 years ago | (#23696221)

But also: in EU phones are "unlocked" (I'm not talking about simlock that allows usage only with originating telecom, I'm talking about actually beeing able to install your own apps or beeing able to communicate with the phone via USB/transfer music/pictures that way, etc.)

Calculator Redux? (4, Interesting)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | more than 5 years ago | (#23693185)

I've read that in the 70s, 4-function calculators went from high-margin, luxury items to throw-away promotional items. The only calculators I've bought are a financial calculator, and a scientific calculator for basic statistics; all of my other calculators are freebies. It took a bit longer, perhaps as the product is far more complex, but are we seeing the same ultra-commoditization of mobile computing devices?

Re:Calculator Redux? (4, Informative)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 5 years ago | (#23693879)

Short answer: I would agree with you that we are.

Long answer:

The article is completely off with its "There will be no real money to be made in direct sales of cheap mini-notebooks to consumers. " statement. Tell that to every business who has taken a smaller per-item profit to dynamically increase revenue via volume.

It's the truth of all business and a continually evolving economy and the technology underlying: building something expensive, make it cheaper, sell tons, build something better to replace it.

Once this occurs and computers/laptops/asus eee equivalents get to be in the range of "absolutely anyone can afford one for a decent one", everyone will have one just like how everyone can afford a cellphone nowadays.

Re:Calculator Redux? (2, Insightful)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 5 years ago | (#23694615)

The problem with this analogy is that you only need x amount of processor power to run a calculator. Im sure I could get a free laptop that ran Windows 95 fairly quickly but couldnt run Vista at all. Laptops are forever a moving target. The scales of economy keep up, but not to the point where they will be commodity give-aways at conventions.

If someone really wanted to build something that ran, say Puppy Linux, fairly well with a small screen then it seems pretty doable if someone was willing to gamble to put such a thing in mass production. The amount of people who want or need a portable Puppy Linux machine probably isnt very high.

The OLPC people are also banking on this, but with the assumption that the demands of the market are not important when dealing with socialized top-down educational programs. Although lately the education administrators from the countries they market their product to are demanding XP thus killing the "we can sell a low-powered machine with a custom OS" assumption.

Re:Calculator Redux? (1)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | more than 5 years ago | (#23694741)

It seems to me that sub-notebooks aren't designed to be as general purpose as full notebooks, and are closer to information appliances than full-blown computers, at least as far as intended goes, so the Windows compatibility concern becomes much less severe. The only real concern would be getting whatever is on the sub-notebook to be modifiable on a Windows machine, which should be a default feature.

Calculators (0, Redundant)

grizdog (1224414) | more than 5 years ago | (#23693193)

We've seen this before, haven't we? here are many examples, but calculators went from being high-margin, high tech items that were very expensive. It wasn't long before they became commodity items that earned razor thin margins for a few low cost producers, and then a high-end developed for calculators that looked a little like computers.


Companies that can get a really good manufacturing and distribution process in place will make a lot of these things, others will wash out, and others may follow the model described in the article.

I'm not sure the author understands economics (4, Insightful)

saterdaies (842986) | more than 5 years ago | (#23693219)

In any truly competitive market (like the market for bulk, wholesale USDA Grade A Wheat where there is no product differentiation and lots of buyers and lots of sellers), sellers make zero economic profit. Economic profit is the profit above the profit you could make in another industry - so, if you build a computer business with 100,000 and get a 20,000 profit and that 100,000 would only have gotten you a 5,000 profit in the pizza business, that 15,000 difference is the economic profit).

Over the long-term, companies don't play in markets that don't have zero economic profit or better - because they have better options to put their time and money into.

Now, these mini notebooks aren't going to be a truly competitive market because, like standard laptops, there is significant product differentiation. People do have a certain amount of brand loyalty, they want different features (20GB vs 16GB, Windows vs GNU/Linux, screen size, subjective thoughts about aesthetics and the like). This is very similar to the laptops most people use today - they're vastly the same, but have little tweaks to them that cause consumers to favor one over another.

If these mini notebooks achieve the same level of product differentiation as current laptops, margins should be similar. In fact, if the mini notebooks are sold with service, that offers the chance for more differentiation. I mean, when people buy mobile phones, they usually choose their carrier first (usually). That means that the margins for the device can be higher because the different service is adding another level of differentiation.

Re:I'm not sure the author understands economics (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 5 years ago | (#23693319)

In fact, if the mini notebooks are sold with service, that offers the chance for more differentiation.
It sounds to me like you're completely in agreement with the claims in the article. There is differentiation in subnotebooks if they're sold with other products or services. He compares with cell phones, which have differentiation because they're sold with other products or services. Cell phone hardware is basically free, but cell phone service is expensive. He's predicting the same thing with subnotebooks.

Re:I'm not sure the author understands economics (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23693813)

Yeah, but the mods here are wowed by half-forgotten arguments from freshman economics class, even if they are largely irrelevant.

BTW vendors that have established strong brand names, including HP, Sony, Lenovo, Dell, and Gateway, have a strong point of differentiation from the "no-name" vendors and so are arguably not playing in a commodity market. The brand-name vendors are in a "several vendors" market, which should allow at least some of them to make profits above the money market rate of return, assuming they are well-managed.

Why there are no economist billionaires. (2, Interesting)

Hankapobe (1290722) | more than 5 years ago | (#23693381)

...sellers make zero economic profit. Economic profit is the profit above the profit you could make in another industry - so, if you build a computer business with 100,000 and get a 20,000 profit and that 100,000 would only have gotten you a 5,000 profit in the pizza business, that 15,000 difference is the economic profit).

This is why I wanted to slap my econ teacher in B-school around.

There are no billionaire economists - but they know it all, don't they? And yet, an uneducated man from Arkansas became one on the richest men in the World from making zero economic profit: Sam Walton founder of Walmart.

Re:Why there are no economist billionaires. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23693531)

It's because economists like to call their field a science, when in fact it is only a science if you consider fortune telling a science. Economics is bullshit. Otherwise, we wouldn't have to switch between dominant economic theories every few decades when something bad happens that the previous theory failed to take into account. For instance, where is stagflation mentioned in any economic theory prior to 1975? Oh right, it was considered impossible.

Re:Why there are no economist billionaires. (1)

blueadept1 (844312) | more than 5 years ago | (#23693701)

I suppose that it is the same as being a doctor then, eh? Pure fortune telling. "Oh, this guy is obviously crazy. Let's drill a hole in his head!"

Re:Why there are no economist billionaires. (1)

klingens (147173) | more than 5 years ago | (#23694149)

Medicine is not a science either. It tries to be through research, but at this stage it's an advanced version of already tried stuff which has been tested to various degrees.
"With patients with symptoms X Y and Z, procedure A helped first in animal trials and then in specified-percentage of humans. Now do the same to him, it might work even when he also gets undesirable result B with a chance of foo%"

Procedure being anything from a medication to operation.

Re:Why there are no economist billionaires. (5, Insightful)

SunTzuWarmaster (930093) | more than 5 years ago | (#23693735)

You are correct. Economics not a science because it is not correct all of the time. Real sceinces like physics (black holes, wormholes, ultra-small interactions, anti-matter), chemistry (bonding theory, atomic model), biology (the issue of the appendix, 'natural' supplements, numerous other things they have been wrong about), microbiology (advancement of certain fungi, spread of disease, availability of microbiologies in harsh environments), and geoscience (plate tectonics, changing weather patterns, ice ages, global warming) are correct 100% of the time and do not change their theories.

Do you honestly believe that because we switch dominant economic theories every "few decades" that it is less of a science? I mean, we flip-flop on issues like anti-matter every few years for physics.

Of course, I'm replying to an anonymous coward, so I get no mod points and no one ever reads my refutation. *Sigh*

Re:Why there are no economist billionaires. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23694161)

Economics not a science because it is not correct all of the time.
No, economics is not a "hard" science because, like psychology, its theories are based on unquantifiable parameters.

For example:

if you build a computer business with 100,000 and get a 20,000 profit and that 100,000 would only have gotten you a 5,000 profit in the pizza business, that 15,000 difference is the economic profit
"would only have gotten you a 5,000 profit" looks suspiciously like a number, but in reality, it's made up. It's an astrological prediction based on guesswork and extrapolation.

In a real science, when your prediction is different than the outcome, you have to fix your theory. In economics, when your prediction is different than the outcome, you can probably just revise your parameters, post hoc, and save the theory.

Re:Why there are no economist billionaires. (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#23694275)

"would only have gotten you a 5,000 profit" looks suspiciously like a number, but in reality, it's made up.
Not necessarily. You could look at a pizza business (or several) and see how much they made. Just because it's not meausrabe to the fifth decimal place doesn't mean it's made up.

Re:Why there are no economist billionaires. (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 5 years ago | (#23694649)

Unfortunately, when I look around at Pizza businesses I see everything from moderate success to bankruptcy. And that's in just one small neighborhood.

So without knowing the factors that determine success in the Pizza business, I can't guess whether he has those factors. Perhaps he would have done much worse in the Pizza business.

I wouldn't claim that economics isn't a science. I don't know enough about it. But popular economics isn't a science, and neither is politically motivated economics.

Re:Why there are no economist billionaires. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23695187)

Economics not a science because it is not correct all of the time.

Interesting. Using those grounds, medicine isn't a science, nor meteorology. Thanks for clearing that up :-).

Re:Why there are no economist billionaires. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23695773)

Um, while I agree that saying that physics is 100% right all the time is nonsense, so is your example. I'm not aware of any "flip-flopping" on antimatter in physics ever, aside from the initial progression from conjectural idea to actual observation. Once Carl Anderson saw positrons in cosmic rays (1932), and then we started making them in the lab, I don't think there was any argument after that. What are you talking about here?

Re:Why there are no economist billionaires. (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 5 years ago | (#23695965)

I mean, we flip-flop on issues like anti-matter every few years for physics.
Uh, no, we don't. Yes, I am a physicist.

It sounds like you don't understand the correspondence principle [wikipedia.org].

Re:Why there are no economist billionaires. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23693727)

Contrary to popular belief, Sam Walton (the founder of Wal-Mart) was not from Arkansas. He was actually born in Kingfisher, Oklahoma on March 29, 1918. He was raised in Missouri where he worked in his father's store while attending school. He also was a college graduate (University of Missouri in 1940).

Re:Why there are no economist billionaires. (1)

tbradshaw (569563) | more than 5 years ago | (#23693763)

This is because in your economics class, you might have slept through the part where "economic profit" and "monetary profit" were defined and differentiated.

Normal profit, of the cash-money variety, is *subtracted as a cost* when calculating economic profit. Sam Walton had zero economic profit because in his very competitive market *after subtracting monetary profit*, he was (approximately) break even. This is a measure of economic systems in a more holistic view, rather than a "money in the bank view".

So yes, Sam Walton had a negligible economic profit while (at the same time) making a fortune in monetary profit.

(Also, financial speculators are economists... and they are often the majority of Forbes "Richest" lists.)

Re:Why there are no economist billionaires. (1)

Hankapobe (1290722) | more than 5 years ago | (#23694047)

Also, financial speculators are economists... and they are often the majority of Forbes "Richest" lists.

Name one.

Re:Why there are no economist billionaires. (1)

The_Wilschon (782534) | more than 5 years ago | (#23694133)

Ok... I'll name him Bob Jones. He's probably already got a name though (not that I know what it is), and Bob Jones isn't a particularly good name (although the best I could come up with on the spur of the moment), but since you insist... I just hope I don't have to be the one to tell his mother, that's all I'm saying.

Re:Why there are no economist billionaires. (2, Insightful)

wilder_card (774631) | more than 5 years ago | (#23693835)

WRONG^H^H^H^H^H Permit me to respectfully disagree. Walton did two things with Wal-Mart: He differentiated his product with superior selection and service at reduced prices, and he developed a more efficient enterprise. By the way, IT was critical to doing both at the same time.

Now that's classic economic theory. The reason an economist didn't do it? Translating theory into practice is a whole 'nother ball game.

Re:Why there are no economist billionaires. (2, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 5 years ago | (#23693905)

There are no billionaire economists - but they know it all, don't they?

Most of the big billionare money (the new money, not the stuff you inherit, at least) is in organizing people to actually get stuff done, making big deals with other companies (and, for that matter, convincing people to put you in charge and pay you money if you're not there already). Anyone can learn how business works. It's another thing to actually pull it off. That's people-skills.

I'm sure there's nerds who could tell you all about, oh, say, the physics of football, the biological processes that occur, the strategy, the statistics. That doesn't mean they could survive a tackle.

Re:Why there are no economist billionaires. (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#23696361)

Most of the big billionare money (the new money, not the stuff you inherit, at least) is in organizing people to actually get stuff done, making big deals with other companies (and, for that matter, convincing people to put you in charge and pay you money if you're not there already). Anyone can learn how business works. It's another thing to actually pull it off. That's people-skills.
Part vision (where are we going), part people skills (get everyone on board, not necessarily the cuddly ones), part business smarts (who do we partner with), part negotiation skills (Jobs convinced the big 5 about iTMS for example), part charisma (yes, really), part recruitment (get the right people) and a bunch of other skills.

One thing is usually absent though, any form of detail skills. At the very, very top it's not about being one smart person, it's about herding a bunch of smart people and hiring others that are great at herding smart people. I know I'm smart, but I also realize time flies and that I'm only one man and the day has only 24 hours. No matter if I worked triple shifts working myself to death could I ever make something like GTA4 alone. If I was in a dysfunctional organization, it wouldn't really matter how bright I was and we'd still not get it done.

The other way around is a little better, if you have a big organization chances are you'll have a mix of smart, average and dumb people. It's almopst so bad that you pick the smart to design it, the average build it and you try to prevent the dumb from fucking everything up. Bad code in a good design can be replaced, but It doesn't matter if you have great code in a shitty design that'll never make it into production. I'd almost go so far as to say that the reason that management get paid so well is that it's their responsibility to not fuck up everyone downstream. Clearly that responsibility becomes larger the nearer the top you are.

Re:Why there are no economist billionaires. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23694087)

NYU economic theorist, Thomas Sargent, lives on the 19th floor of a 5 star hotel and makes over $300,000 a year. He's not exactly eating Mac N' Cheese though most people that think Walmart is something special probably are.

Re:Why there are no economist billionaires. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23694555)

There are no billionaire economists - but they know it all, don't they? And yet, an uneducated man from Arkansas became one on the richest men in the World from making zero economic profit: Sam Walton founder of Walmart.
Physicists know it all too, yet it's poorly educated jocks that make millions hitting a baseball. What you point out is the difference between creating a model, and actually doing things.
As for Wal-mart, they are close to 0 economic profit, given they have a net margin of 3.3% while Federal bonds are ~3%

Re:I'm not sure the author understands economics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23693927)

People always pay the price or pay more to get what they want. Size matters when it comes to subnotebooks but only if it is functional. So far the keyboards have been inadequate. Most of us would buy an old TRS-100 type subnotebook because it had a minimum adquate screen and perfect keyboard with a good battery option - if it ran a good Linix version. As good as the Asus eee is, in North America it only supports Chinese and English languages and the keyboard is not adquate for typing beyond hunt and peck. The toughest part for any consumers is the wait. We have got the money or we can get the money, but we just can't get the product we want - yet. Perfection for most is perfect keyboard, 6 hr battery, wifi, multilingual open linux, and size in order of importance - price being last. Being close is not good enough because almost everyone has one or more inperfect laptops with lots of memory and speed and are waiting....

Re:I'm not sure the author understands economics (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#23694305)

Remeber the Toshiba Libretto? Those (there was a 2nd generation one) were cool. Sadly not cheap.

Re:I'm not sure the author understands voodoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23695913)

There, fixed the title for you.

If these mini notebooks achieve the same level of product differentiation as current laptops, margins should be similar. In fact, if the mini notebooks are sold with service, that offers the chance for more differentiation. I mean, when people buy mobile phones, they usually choose their carrier first (usually). That means that the margins for the device can be higher because the different service is adding another level of differentiation.
There is, apparently, an economic value in NOT having a service. Maybe some economist type can explain to me why an oligopoly should be allowed to demand rents for what once was free.

Subnotebooks like Cell phone plans? (5, Insightful)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 5 years ago | (#23693221)

I dont think so. Cell phones have something on computers: they have a service that can go away if you dont pay the monthly fee.

Computers one buys from a store does not. Microsoft and a few other companies have played around with "software as a service", but the smart ones snubbed it. Instead, it'll stay Linux and get cheaper and cheaper.

Re:Subnotebooks like Cell phone plans? (3, Interesting)

KokorHekkus (986906) | more than 5 years ago | (#23693325)

Just grabbed one of the many junkmail papers i find in my IRL mailbox here in Sweden: If you sign up for a 24 month plan on mobile 3G broadband (at $70 a month) you get a Toshiba 15" laptop with 3 GB memory, Athlon X2 and 250 GB hd for $170. For some people that kind of offer makes sense, for others not. But this is just one of several offers that I find in my mail every month. And you bet the buyers will pay the monthly fee, one way or another. Just like with cellphones.

Re:Subnotebooks like Cell phone plans? (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#23693429)

But honestly, what place doesn't have some unsecured Wi-Fi connection to connect to? In your office you usually have a 'Net connection, in the car, it would be very scary to be driving down a highway and see someone with an EEE trying to connect to an open Wi-Fi network while driving, at most restaurants you can manage to get a decent Wi-Fi connection from other restaurants or the restaurants has Wi-Fi too. About the only way that 3Gs is going to convince the average person who needs it (which are usually in the city where most unsecured Wi-Fi connections are....) is if they are commuting by train or something.

Re:Subnotebooks like Cell phone plans? (3, Informative)

KokorHekkus (986906) | more than 5 years ago | (#23693761)

As I said, it's not for everyone but just using "average person" isn't good enough. Potential users are those who live outside cities where broadband isn't available but 3G is (not extremly uncommon here), people who live in more than one place (weekend commuters, people with summer cottages... there's one summer cottage for every two households in Sweden) and it's also useful for people who travel in work so they don't need to hassle their customers for net access or search for wifi.

And then we have the people who feel they want to be able to be online anywhere and everywhere. They don't need it but they want it and think it's worth paying something for.

They're not anywhere near a majority. But it all adds up to a sizeable market anyway.

Re:Subnotebooks like Cell phone plans? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23693953)

I don't agree. 3G networking is probably the most flexible way to have an internet connection - everywhere - without relying on unsecure wifis (which probably would be hard to find 30km out in the forrest, i one would ever find him/herself there).

Re:Subnotebooks like Cell phone plans? (1)

canuck57 (662392) | more than 5 years ago | (#23693467)

Computers one buys from a store does not. Microsoft and a few other companies have played around with "software as a service", but the smart ones snubbed it. Instead, it'll stay Linux and get cheaper and cheaper.

You are talking the demise of Microsoft, but you know that and I concur. The operating system is now a commodity, and already we see 2 tiers breaking out. EeePC and similar appliance PC on the low end, and Apple at the top end. The question is how fast will this deteriorate the current Microsoft pricing models. I suspect the next quarter financial for MSFT are going to show the trend and it will continue to deteriorate for years.

Re:Subnotebooks like Cell phone plans? (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#23693477)

You would get it with a 3G modem which meant to be used with the laptop. Once you quit paying for it you don't get the internet service but the laptop still functions. Just as I can quit paying for my phone but the phone still does it's other bits and in fact I can take it elsewhere for phone service.

Re:Subnotebooks like Cell phone plans? (2, Insightful)

Cerebus (10185) | more than 5 years ago | (#23693485)

Consider a mini notebook with only 3G or WiMax. Now you're tethered to the service.

My ass (1)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 5 years ago | (#23693235)

Somehow i do not see the cellphone subsidy model working in this case. Laptops are one of the most frequently "lost" or stolen items i know of. If such devices are coming subsidized, you can bet your ass that there will be a hefty contract along with it as well as limitations on what you can do with it.

I mean, who wants the liability of having to continue to meet your contractual obligations for near the cost of the device, in exchange for having to use it their way.

Stupid argument. (2, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 5 years ago | (#23693267)

The comparison to cell phones is rather poor. A cell phone is almost totally worthless without the service attached to it (and vice versa). The implication is the two are linked together, where the provider benefits by reducing a high barrier to entry (initial high cost).

A portable computer is tied to no such service. It's useful without any internet service in particular, and there's thousands of FREE places around the world to get free Wi-Fi internet. So tell me again why this bundled business model is going to take over?

If you want to make a comparison, compare it to banks giving away free junk, like a toaster. Hardly anyone that wants a toaster goes to open up the bank account just to get the toaster. I don't see why the ultra-mobile laptop is any different.

Re:Stupid argument. (2, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#23693341)

Amazon's Kindle is basically exactly the opposite of the argument being made in the article. The service is rolled into the purchase price of the device.

Re:Stupid argument. (1)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 5 years ago | (#23693427)

A portable computer is tied to no such service.
Yet. If computers are sold like cellphones, it will be only because there will be some service (like internet access, it's already happening in Europe, see posts above).

Re:Stupid argument. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23694231)

> A portable computer is tied to no such service.

They will be. Honestly, how long do you think the open nature of personal computers is going to last? There are huge players with serious economic interests in restricting the devices to a forced subscription model. You won't be able to connect to the internet with it except through their services. You won't be able to just install and run whatever you want.

There are pressures from multiple directions aiming to do that. Just wait.

Re:Stupid argument. (2, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 5 years ago | (#23694339)


Honestly, how long do you think the open nature of personal computers is going to last?

Forever. How long do you think the open nature of lumber is going to continue?

The only reason personal computers have become as popular as the are is because of the open nature of them. Take that away, and the gravy train is over. Honestly, any market moves towards being MORE open and less proprietary as time goes on. 30 years ago you couldn't buy a non-AT&T approved phone and attach it to your phone line. People got tired of that, and AT&T eventually lost that battle. Do you think we'd ever go back to that kind of policy?

People have already tried those lock-in models with computers and internet. They didn't work. They're even less likely to work as computers become less and less expensive. 20 years ago lots of network providers tried to close off computer networks into proprietary ones (Compuserve, Q-Link, Prodigy, AOL). Those all failed to an open model. Trying to create a proprietary solution when an open one already exists is going to be near impossible.

Re:Stupid argument. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23694851)

> The only reason personal computers have become as popular as the are is because of the open nature of them.

(I'm the AC you replied to).

Well, I certainly *hope* you're right, but I *fear* you're not. I mean, look at the rising popularity of locked down platforms like playstations and 360's, or cell phones. Most people don't really seem to care whether the platform is open.

20 years ago this couldn't work with computers or the internet because most people using them were technically literate and wouldn't stand for it. But increasingly it's Joe Sixpack who doesn't know or care. He shops on price, and if he can get $100 off the price of that new computer by buy some locked down piece of crap with HW that only works with some particular service provider, he'll do it. He bought winmodems, for pete sake.

I think it's only a matter of time. Eventually you won't even be able to get on the net without running a "trusted platform".

Re:Stupid argument. (1)

Stephen Ma (163056) | more than 5 years ago | (#23696137)

Now would be a good time for the federal government to lay down fiber to everyone's homes. (The cost? A few months in Iraq.)

The government would own the fiber, but private entities would provide the actual Internet services. The split would prevent the government from doing nasty things, and equally forstall the kind of lock-down by large corporations that you predict.

Re:Stupid argument. (2, Insightful)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 5 years ago | (#23694315)

Because it's not really free.

You can get 3G internet for £15/month if you take the modem on its own. Taking the "free" laptop alongwith it pushes the cost up to £35/month, and you are tied into a two year contract. In other words, the "free" laptop costs £240. You can get it for £220 elsewhere.

Re:Stupid argument. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23695539)

If you want to make a comparison, compare it to banks giving away free junk, like a toaster. Hardly anyone that wants a toaster goes to open up the bank account just to get the toaster. I don't see why the ultra-mobile laptop is any different.
I wouldn't go as far as to say hardly anyone. Just check out the some of the freebies websites.

Schools (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#23693321)

I can see this model becoming used in schools where the schools bribe students with a laptop to do well on standardized tests. Or perhaps giving every student a laptop and free wi-fi access at the schools, however if your GPA slips below something your MAC address gets banned until it starts going back up.

Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23693359)

"No one goes there any more. It's too crowded." --Yogi Berra

A panacea? (0, Troll)

rhiorg (213355) | more than 5 years ago | (#23693385)

Perhaps we could build vehicles that run on subnotebook computers. It would be a cost-effective solution to our energy crisis, and could save the big 3 automakers!

Yo! Asus! Listen up! (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23693413)

Asus's success is killing it. If you've been to their website, it is slow as a pig, 24x7.

Part of it is due to a clueless webdesigner, who loaded it up with flash, javascript and all sorts of other crap. Add to that a big rise in people visiting, and suddenly their servers are dog slow (at best) and down (too often).

In fact, it's a classic example of what not to do with web design and IT planning.

So, Asus, could you PLEASE put some bright people on this, and give them the resources they need?

At to the bright people: could you PLEASE not make having Javascript and Flash mandatory? Not all of us are smoking the Web 2.0 crack.

Thanks.

my advice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23693431)

Never open a bank account in return for receiving a free gadget. You'll find that you won't be able to afford your "free" gadget, what with all the service fees and penalties you'll be paying on your bank account, ATM fees, plus the minimum deposit requirements and foregone interest you could've been earning elsewhere. AND they'll be spamming you about home equity loans ("loans available below prime!"), credit cards, etc.

And the "notebook" will likely be a piece of junk loaded with adware.

There's a reason they make these offers. That reason is the bank wants to make money from you.

Mini mee too products (2, Insightful)

SandyBrownBPK (1031640) | more than 5 years ago | (#23693459)

I kinda like the "free with" concept, except... a PC, even a mini, is still a LOT more complicated than, say, a toaster! And something like THAT is what is really needed for people who just want to browse the Internet and do e-mail! As a retired former software support engineer, it is painfully apparent that a Windows PC or even a MAC requires more tech savvy than your average consumer is ever going to possess! (Consider managing the backup process, for example.)

Repeat (2, Interesting)

kurtis25 (909650) | more than 5 years ago | (#23693473)

Didn't they try this with desktop computers. When my sister went to college dad got dial up internet from MSN which came with a free computer which dad gave to her. It only makes sense to give away computers to use internet, especially now that companies are inserting ads. If my ISP stands to make money off of each PC on the network then the more PCs I have the better off they are. If you gave me a free subcompact-notebook, I would surf the internet more because I would be portable within my house.

Re:Repeat (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 5 years ago | (#23696173)

If you gave me a free subcompact-notebook, I would surf the internet more because I would be portable within my house.

Umm, they don't want you to actually use that connection.

Re:Repeat (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 5 years ago | (#23696295)

We will see laptops given away with various services for one simple reason. Laptops are quickly becoming cheaper than desktops. LED screens are becoming cheap, there is cost saving in not having the large desktop case, we are having increasing monolithic components. The desktop computer, at the low end, are going to disappear. In addition, one of the most expensive component on the laptop, the screen, is going to get smaller to make the computer smaller. The idea of $1000 for a small laptop is not out of the question, if you want a full powered computer in a small space you have to pay for it, but a minimal computer in a small space will be cheap.

However we are a while out from free laptops. The technology for putting together these small machines is new. We are going to need some further integration. The high resolution screens are going to have to become cheaper. Most people can survive with a 9 inch screen, if the resolution is there. Then there is the issue of batteries. I seem to recall the base battery on the esus is crap, and people thought they were getting the extended. Finally, either users are going to have to accept *nix in these freeby machines, or MS will have to drastically review pricing for it's current OS. I don't think that manufacturers are going to accept the OS as 50% of the product cost.

The bank thing is possible if they can get the price down to $100. Otherwise, I don't know what service would work. About the only thing would be cell based internet connectivity. I don't know how much phone companies want this though. They are already complaining that user are using the internet too much, and not making enough phone calls. I gues not so many people are going over their contract limits.

Merging of notebook and cell-phone? (1)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 5 years ago | (#23693513)

I suppose that's the way we are going with blackberries and iphones. If the Eee could be used for making a phone call, it would be something like a blackberry on steroids.

Re:Merging of notebook and cell-phone? (0, Redundant)

Kuj0317 (856656) | more than 5 years ago | (#23693575)

I suppose that's the way we are going with blackberries and iphones. If the Eee could be used for making a phone call, it would be something like a blackberry on steroids.
or... perhaps a blackberry on crack? say, a "crackberry" if you will?

Re:Merging of notebook and cell-phone? (1)

Pop69 (700500) | more than 5 years ago | (#23693901)

Like the HTC TyTN II ?

I can call people, send/receive emails and ssh into linux boxes, all with the same piece of kit.

Good for Linux, bad for Windows... (1)

Lazy Jones (8403) | more than 5 years ago | (#23693753)

the margin for OS licenses sold with PCs has been slim for a while, now it's dropping sharply for laptops as well.

It's not unlikely that major vendors will now put some effort into a user-friendly Linux, something that the volunteer crowd has failed at terribly in the past 10 years.

Of course microsoft might very well adapt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23693993)

Sell a stripped down version of windows xp
"Windows Netbook" to the OEMs for almost nothing and then charge users for extra features like wallpapers, little games like solitaire and pinball and follow the MAC example of charging for annual incremental updates which the sheep will happily pay for.

Re:Of course microsoft might very well adapt (1)

klingens (147173) | more than 5 years ago | (#23694195)

If they do, their absolute profits will plummet. You can't hide the same amount of profit in absolute dollar value in a product half the price easily. Especially when the new product costs almost as much to develop as the old one.

The real future - commodity laptops (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 5 years ago | (#23693929)

In most big US drugstores and office supply stores, and in every WalMart, there is a section that has pocket calculators, pocket dictionaries, low-end PDAs, and other small electronics. Some of those devices are quite sophisticated, even though they're very cheap.

Soon we'll be seeing laptops in that section, in a blister pack hanging from a hook. During "back to school" season, there will be big piles of the things. We'll see this as soon as the price can be brought below $200.

There will still be higher-end laptops, but the low end units will be the volume market.

soon, MS Windows will cost more than the hardware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23694103)

and Bill Gates can make even more unethical and undeserved profits.

It's a real shame there's so many suckers in the world ruining it for the rest of us.

Won't happen. Here's why. . . (3, Insightful)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | more than 5 years ago | (#23694255)

Sorry. Let me tell you about a hard and fast rule of reality:


The things which I think are cool, either die early or succeed only in limited niche markets with other don't-quite-fit people like myself.

Stuff which I find lame and un-appealing, (like iPods, cellphones, Facebook and instant messaging, for instance), go gangbusters and change the shape of reality as we know it.

I think the eee PC is super-cool, therefore it is doomed to be an awesome device which will enjoy a respected but mediocre public presence at best. --And I can see the pattern emerging already; a massive squirrely investment panic by all the big companies based on early excitement for a market model people are already backing off from. Read the engadget comments under the UMPC's sometime. People are already bitching about the various decisions made by Asus and the new designs put forth. That must-have magic is already kaput, the market force now running on the steam from geeks like myself and that's it. Sure, they've sold a million or so units already. But there are a million or so geeks in the world. I said 'niche'. I didn't say non-existent.

The only way UMPC's will take over on the kind of level the big players are all terrified of missing out on is if the average girlfriend can't live without one. --And they're Oh-So-Almost, what with their lids which beg for stickers and funky colors. Sadly though, Hello Kitty, and Power Puff Girls, and Sailor Moon are old hat and there's nothing new driving sticker sales at the moment. And girlfriends, pardon the sexist broad-stroke generalization, aren't practically minded when it comes to tech gear. They want to talk and squeal and giggle over dramatic fluff with their friends and they want to have what their friends have and they want fashion statements. The UMPC come SOOO close, but sorry. Mini PC's which take half a minute to boot up, and need to be fiddled with and need to be sat down with and don't fit neatly into a purse aren't cool. They're lame. Sitting down and focusing is for when you're at home after work or school, and you already have a PC for that.

The eee PC came close, with their pink 700's, but they've moved in a direction which pleases people like me; better screens, better keyboards, better functionality, etc. I am very happy about this. But take-over the world appeal? Neh.

Now if there was an animated TV series sensation featuring empowered teen-age girls in cute outfits and dippy soap-operatic themes which sported hundreds of brilliant stickers which desperately needed to be affixed to a shiny mini laptop lid, then perhaps AT&T would have a chance to get their evil claws in. But until then, nope. Cell phones do it better, faster, longer, cuter and easier. And you don't have to wait thirty seconds for them to boot up. (Though, hopefully before the other shoe drops and the UMPC market is abandoned, somebody will have worked out the 'instant-on' thing.) --But I do find it wonderfully amusing to see all the big manufacturer's lose money because of catastrophic mis-readings of the market. Frankly, that's the only real way for me to get the device that I want at the price I want; for big companies to mis-read things. Seriously, this is enormously fun to watch, and by the end of it all, I'll have a cool little writing tool with a decent battery life and internet access for maybe $350.

Of course, I could be wrong. It's Mercury Retrograde month, so I probably am, and in directions I can only guess at now even as I reach to click the 'submit' button. . .


-FL

Re:Won't happen. Here's why. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23694453)

"Hello Kitty, and Power Puff Girls, and Sailor Moon are old hat"
You obviously haven't been to Japan lately.......

Re:Won't happen. Here's why. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23694503)

> UMPC market is abandoned, somebody will have worked out the 'instant-on' thing

Check out the Nokia UMPCs. The N800/N810 will run for a week on standby, and are instant on from that state. You just tap the screen and it's ready to roll in under half a second. The new ones have Firefox and the same screen res as an eeepc, but in a smaller form factor.

The N800 only has a stylus, but the N810 has a mini keyboard. Runs Linux underneath.

Sounds good (1)

sapphire wyvern (1153271) | more than 5 years ago | (#23694257)

Hmm. If someone came out with something like the Asus Eee 900/901 with a built-in HSDPA modem and 802.11 tethering, for free, attached to a HSDPA broadband contract for, say, $20 to $30AUD per month... I'd be in like Flynn.

Bring it on, I say!

Would you like a free IPod? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23694361)

For how long now have companies been using IPods to attract people to their service or product. "Buy 3 rooms of new carpeting today and get a FREE IPOD!" It doesn't mean that there is no real money to be made in direct sales of IPods. It means that IPods are very popular products at a reasonably affordable price point. In fact, so popular and affordable that it is worth the loss of the wholesale price of an IPod from your profit margin just for the added advertising draw "giving them away" has.

The mini-pc offers are no different...

Its hurting, isn't it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23695227)

This is fairy tale thinking. I sense a disgruntled UMPC maker venting as he sees his inflated profit margins disappear.

How many Wii's, PSPs, DSs,mobile phones or other cheaper electronic gadgets do you see being distributed by banks or other businesses? The most you can expect is a usb stick and that will probably be way out of proportion to the benefit they hope to get out of you. This guy is clearly talking out of his ass.

With a difference (1)

pmontra (738736) | more than 5 years ago | (#23695893)

I have no uses for a phone without a contract with a carrier, but I've a lot of things to do with a subnotebook with no add-on services attached. Basically everything I've been doing with a PC in the last 20 years or so.

A subnotebook is not a notebook but it's not a phone too. Businesses will try to attach services to them, but I don't think that it will be impossible to find a bare subnotebook. Well, if a subnotebook with a two-year HSDPA contract will cost as much one without I'll get it, but I won't if I have to pay f more.

You don't always pay full price for notebooks (1)

phatcabbage (986219) | more than 5 years ago | (#23696525)

the successful pricing model for 'mini me too' laptops will look nothing like the notebook pricing model (where you always pay full price for the hardware)

I know that as recently as two years ago when I was working for Circuit City, we would discount laptops up to $150 off of the price we paid just to get people in the door -- and hopefully sell some warranties, accessories, and services (our real money-makers).
I'm just pointing out that we've already hit the point the author was talking about in notebooks, too.
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