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Who Killed the Netbook?

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the mr-brin-in-the-parlor-with-a-tablet dept.

Portables 398

itwbennett writes "Netbooks died the death of a thousand cuts and there were conspirators aplenty with motive, weapons and opportunity. Was the unpopularity of Linux to blame? What about Microsoft and its efforts to kill XP? Ever smarter smartphones certainly played a role, as did the rise of the App Store, and lighter full-featured notebooks. Or maybe it was just that the American consumer wasn't going to be satisfied with technology designed for third-world use. 'In late 2005, the only computer found for $100 was stolen, was dead, or was ancient enough to require Windows 95. A real and functional computer for $100 was a dream, but also made people wonder what sacrifices might need to be made to offer such a comparatively inexpensive machine,' writes Tom Henderson, in an in-depth look at what contributed to the netbook's demise." Before solving the murder mystery, it's worth considering whether the netbook is actually dead.

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This is it! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36553206)

This [] is the year of Linux!

Re:This is it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36553232)

What? 2008?

The iPad. End of story. (1)

Smidge207 (1278042) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553222)

And porcupines.

I don't get it (3, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553224)

Shops near me have five or six netbooks on sale.

Re:I don't get it (5, Insightful)

readthemall (1531267) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553276)

Exactly, every time I go to a shop at least 1/3 of the portable computers sold are netbooks. With prices about half of the cheapest 14"+ laptops they are very good choice in a poor European country, and perhaps in many other parts of the world. And unlike spartphones, netbooks are real computers that can be actively used for many hours both for creating and consuming content.

Re:I don't get it (1, Funny)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553336)

in a poor European country

I think at the moment with the financial crisis that means every European country except Liechtenstein

Re:I don't get it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36553524)

At least we still have the USA to look down upon.

Re:I don't get it (2)

masterwit (1800118) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553320)

Exactly and I still love my linux book.

Touchpad - starting at least ~500.00
Netbook - ~250.00 (ish)

They are a different market (sorta). Personally I like buttons.

Re:I don't get it (1)

stealth_finger (1809752) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553620)

I still love my netbook. It has a bit of a dodgy motherboard so if I turn it off there's no guaranteeing it'll turn back on, so I guess that's killing it a bit. Otherwise netbooks are awesome.

Re:I don't get it (1)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553358)

Exactly. It's not dead, the sales are just declining due to a saturated market (when everybody has got one, it's hard to find new buyers), with new competition from other gadgets as well. Fast forward a few years, and the same will have happened to the tablets.

Re:I don't get it (4, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553454)

This is kind of like Washington politics. There's only only a limited number real, shoe leather reporters left who can actually find things out; most of the media is reporting on the opinions of other media. How many times can the popular IT press write a breathless article about yet *another* compact laptop which boasts long battery life and low price in exchange for delivering only modest but acceptable performance? The product category might be important, and earn money, but there won't be any new opinions to sell about it until some *real* reporter or technologist does some actual research.

The popular trade press has always been this way. I once *resigned* because my company hired a boss whose sole source of knowledge was from reading IT trade magazines. The company crashed and burned shortly after, thanks to her, which shows you who the market for tech media that runs on the brain-farts of other tech media is.

Now the *un*popular tech trade press, that's a different story. When I was an MIT student, one of the Course 2 (Mech E) guys in the dorm used to get *Compressed Air* magazine which (ironically named I guess) consistently had substantive, well written articles about compressed air technology. Even though it wasn't my field (I couldn't explain the difference between "stress" and "strain" without referring to Wikipedia, which didn't exist back then) I used to look forward to the next issue showing up in the dorm lounge.

Re:I don't get it (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553676)

*Compressed Air* magazine... I used to look forward to the next issue showing up in the dorm lounge.

Forever alone O_o

Re:I don't get it (4, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553462)

Exactly. This is pure unadulterated BS. To quote Mark Twain, "reports of my death are greatly exaggerated". My question is, why does anybody think the netbook is dead? I've bought two in the last year, the second to replace the first that was stolen. The second was stolen too, and I plan on replacing it as well. When the first netbook was stolen they took my notebook, too, I won't be replacing it. Notebooks are just too big for my purposes, and too expensive to risk theft or damage, but a netbook is small enough to take anywhere, and cheap enough to replace if it's damaged or stolen.

IMO the netbook's only drawback is the lack of an optical drive, but it's easy enough to move the data to a larger computer with a network or thumb drive.

Tablets would be nice if you could attach a keyboard and mouse and had some sort of stand to place them vertically.

Floor space (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553584)

My question is, why does anybody think the netbook is dead?

For one thing, less brick-and-mortar floor space in Best Buy and Office Depot devoted to them and more to Apple's iPad. In this market segment, floor space is important because shopping online often means that one ends up stuck with a product that's unusably unergonomic.

Re:I don't get it (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553616)

I've bought two in the last year, the second to replace the first that was stolen. The second was stolen too

Geez man. To lose one could be called carelessness....

Re:I don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36553704)

Indeed, and USB CD/DVD drives cost next to nothing, my GF uses one with her netbook to transfer CDs to iTunes. They weight little enough that even when she's carrying it around with the netbook it's barely noticeable with the added benefit that it's not drawing power when it's unplugged and she can leave it behind when it's not required.

Re:I don't get it (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553708)

why does anybody think the netbook is dead?

Because Netcraft confirms it!

The Netbook is dead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36553242)

I saw a dozen at my local computer retailer last week, priced nearly $300 below the nearest tablets. I do legitimate work on it (coding) which I don't see how I'd do with an app interface on a smudgy screen.

Re:The Netbook is dead? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36553334)

But were they truly netbooks, with no moving parts? Small, light and with an SSD so one never need worry about chucking them in a bag whilst they are still running.

Or were they merely small laptops with hot, fragile spinning disks to hold 250GB of data that shouldn't really be on a netbook? Netbook, see.

For example, I can plug a NavStar GPS dongle into my netbook, close it and pop it in my backtrack. It logs a GPS trace whilst I walk and jog. Try doing that with a small laptop and you'd be picking disk heads out of platters for weeks.

Re:The Netbook is dead? (3, Informative)

Tx (96709) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553414)

"But were they truly netbooks, with no moving parts?"

That's your own made-up definition of netbook; while there isn't a universally accepted definition of the term, the generally accepted definitions do not preclude the use of hard disks, and the iconic models of the genre such as the Acer Aspire One have mostly had hard-disk versions since the term came into existence. Here's some typical definitions [] , as you can see they all basically say "small, low powered laptop", none of them mandate an SSD.

Re:The Netbook is dead? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553552)

Yup, Netbooks are dead. I've not seen one for sale for ages.

In unrelated news, cheap, small laptops are selling very well.

Steve Jobs dit it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36553248)

Clearly Apple killed the netbook with the majority of the people wanting to use an ease-of-access device jumping over to the iPad team.

Re:Steve Jobs dit it (1)

mhh91 (1784516) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553264)


Re:Steve Jobs dit it (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553386)

Or funny.

Netbook isn't dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36553280)

Netbook as a smaller/cheaping laptop never really worked. Modern software (even opensource/linux) need plenty of CPU and RAM, so netbooks quickly slow to a crawl when using regular desktop/laptop software. Netbooks only make sense for lightweight apps, like those found on smartphones and tablets.

Re:Netbook isn't dead (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553354)

Rubbish. Netbooks are perfectly capable of running most software (anything except 3D games). Any disadvantage they have compared to normal laptops is more than made up for in being *far* easier to carry around.

(Of course if you drive everywhere in an SUV that might be moot...)

Re:Netbook isn't dead (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553428)

If you truly believe that, I'll happily sell you my old netbook for $100. 64GB SSD, 2GB of RAM, 1.6GHz dual core atom. 9" screen @ 1024x600.

Why am I getting rid of it? Because I just bought a 13" ultraportable laptop that tips the scales at only about 1lb more than the netbook, and is significantly more usable: higher res screen, bigger screen, and it has a real full size keyboard. Didn't break the bank on that laptop either... it only cost me about $100 more than most netbooks cost.

Re:Netbook isn't dead (1)

aaaaaaargh! (1150173) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553472)

I'll buy it. Do you send it to Europe?

Re:Netbook isn't dead (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553572)

If you truly believe that, I'll happily sell you my old netbook for $100. 64GB SSD, 2GB of RAM, 1.6GHz dual core atom. 9" screen @ 1024x600.

Sounds great. How much to ship to the UK?

Re:Netbook isn't dead (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553582)

I guess it depends on where you draw the line between "netbook" and "ultraportable laptop". Some people would still see your new machine as ridiculously small and underpowered.

My EeePC 900 had 2Gb RAM, 32Gb SSD and did years of service, even demonstrating 3D apps via projector. Last month I bought an Alienware 11.6" laptop because I needed more 3D power and antialiasing for the demos. The screen is only a couple of inches bigger but in its bag its twice as big as the EeePC and three or four times as heavy. You really notice the difference when traveling around.

Partially its the media (4, Insightful)

vawwyakr (1992390) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553290)

You would think that Steve Jobs is the second coming from the way they fawn over anything that comes out of Apple right now. The iPad is a neat device but in the eyes of the people making reports about it, it has already replaced all computers in every household. It seems like there isn't a day that goes by that some new Apple story goes up on even if the new story is just a rehash of an old story. It's all about proportion even when netbooks were at their biggest it was something just barely talked about and many people would have no idea what you were talking about if you said the word "netbook" while there's hardly a english speaking US citizen who doesn't know what an iPad is.

Re:Partially its the media (3, Insightful)

leonbev (111395) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553438)

In other words, netbooks "died" because nobody was spending millions of dollars on advertising and PR trying to convince people that they are still a better alternative to tablets.

Which is sad, because netbooks can still be more useful than tablets depending on what application you're using. The amount of business software available for tablets like the iPad still isn't all that great, and it's a pain in the ass to type anything lengthy on the touch screen.

But, hey, if all you want to do is surf the web and watch a few movies, and tablets are great at that.

Re:Partially its the media (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553604)

So are netbooks and for half the price. They just don't have an silver coloured fruit on the back.

Re:Partially its the media (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36553614)

In other words, netbooks "died" because nobody was spending millions of dollars on advertising and PR trying to convince people that they are still a better alternative to tablets.

Which is sad, because netbooks can still be more useful than tablets depending on what application you're using.

I don't get it. People are still making netbooks and giving shelf space to them. So I guess they must be selling them or they wouldn't bother. Is it sad that there's no particular hype around them? Why would you want there to be?

Tablets became the new fad. (5, Informative)

bartyboy (99076) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553296)

Tablets became the new thing to have. Demand for netbooks dropped and so did prices. Netbooks that were selling for $300 are selling for $200, so manufacturers are moving to producing tablets, which have higher profit margins. It's not rocket science, just simple economics.

Re:Tablets became the new fad. (1)

Elimental (2013582) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553526)

Well I for one replaced my Netbook with an ASUS Eee Pad Transformer.... Dead, no - transformed is more like it.

Full of Shit (1)

kyrio (1091003) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553304)

You can run Windows XP (fairly well) on a P2. Windows 7 runs just fine on a P4. I don't know what this retard is talking about $100 desktops or laptops only running Windows 95. You can get a P4 desktop or laptop for $100 or less these days.

Re:Full of Shit (1)

justsayin (2246634) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553328)

Yeah, I agree. That was a long ass article about netbooks. At some point it seemed like the author was jus5 making shit up as he went along.

Re:Full of Shit (1)

leathered (780018) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553452)

You're right in that for most people, the processor speed doesn't matter. Quantity and speed of RAM, HD density and rotation speed and graphics performance have far more influence on how the user perceives the speed of a system. Sadly Intel are still brainwashing people into thinking they need the latest and greatest Core iWhatever for browsing Facebook.

Dell's advertising also used to play heavily on this when they were deeply wedded with Intel. I remember when the 3 GHz P4s first came out. Dell would offer them in systems with 128 MB of RAM and a 20GB 5400 RPM HD coupled with the then dire Intel integrated graphics and people would wonder why the hell their system was so sluggish.

Re:Full of Shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36553542)

I recently purchased an x220 (over a netbook) for college. I sure don't need an i5 in what will essentially be a machine for emacs, LaTeX, midori, and ssh, but it was part of the base system, so I'm happy with it. I did install gentoo so that I wouldn't feel bad about letting those cores idle.

You missed the words "back then" (1)

robbak (775424) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553566)

The article stated, many times, that he was stating the prices at the times the XO and Eee first came out.

At that time, the P4 was a high spec new system, maybe $2500. To get something for a hundred, you'd have to find an old 686 or something, and 95 would have been the os.

They aren't dead. (5, Informative)

the_raptor (652941) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553314)

There are more models of netbooks now then during the height of the netbook craze. What has died is Linux powered netbooks with cheap SSDs. From retailer reports a lot of people who bought netbooks weren't satisfied with Linux and weren't satisfied with the storage of the cheap SSDs. So now days you have cheap Windows netbooks with conventional spinning disc drives, and very expensive small laptops with expensive SSDs.

To me the whole appeal of the netbook was something small and light that I could chuck in my backpack and not worry about, which doesn't work with a spinning disc HDD (when I worked in computer repair 90% of laptop issues were damaged HDDs. A certain brand of laptops we sold had a MTBF of its drives of probably 3 months in actual real world usage).

Re:They aren't dead. (1)

masterwit (1800118) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553332)

mod parent up.

The shape of the netbook has changed, what we knew may be gone. Great point.

Re:They aren't dead. (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553376)

Laptop hard drives are fairly rugged - to the point where I've taken my Eee 1000HE all over the place using a wide variety of methods for carrying/storing it and never had a hard drive problem.

One retailler report needs looking into (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36553448)

I can't remember if it was PC world or someone else, but the retailer doesn't really matter. The retailer had to source 2/3 of their netbooks with Windows, 1/3 at most Linux.

So the demand for Linux was huge. However, when they ran out of Linux installed netbooks, they couldn't get any more until they sold their inventory of Windows netbooks.

Result: "no demand for Linux" which, when you looked into it turned out to be "We ran out of Linux the previous quarter and so we've sold no Linux notebooks this quarter".

For me, the need for a netbook was hugely reduced when they weren't made at least damp-proof and dust-proof. If you stuff one in your backpack and it rains, or there is sand in there because you went to the beach, then your netbook is going to get old real quick.

Re:They aren't dead. (1)

squizzar (1031726) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553508)

I got a Dell inspiron 300m (12") at Uni for a pretty good price, and treated it just like you say. Admittedly it's a bit of Grandpa's broom now as pretty much everything but the case has been replaced at some point, but that was after a few years of abuse. The HDD was fine up until about a year ago when I had a message pop up (in Ubuntu - why doesn't Windows have SMART monitoring by default) saying that the drive might be on the way out.

Unfortunately any similar replacements are quite expensive. If I'd seen a Netbook with a suitable screen (I wouldn't want less than the 12" one) I'd have gone for it, performance isn't an issue and better battery life would be great, but nothing really came up that bested the 300m. I've still got it, because it's small enough to do all the things that people seem to use tablets for now (e.g. browse the internet whilst lazing on the sofa).

Exactly, just look at the MacBook Air and ChromeOS (1, Insightful)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553518)

I agree. I'll get to the MacBook Air in a minute. But first, I have the following: Droid X running Cyanogen, eMachine Netbook running Ubuntu 11.04, and a Dell desktop running Windows 7 (my newest edition).

The problem I see is that tablets are trying to replace the Netbook (not so much the notebook, which is more of a replacement for desktops). The tablet is not appealing to me, because there really is no gap to fill between my Droid X and my Netbook. My netbook, a 1Ghz Atom with a 250GB HDD (not SSD) is just as powerful as a notebook, just a tad slower (but not much unless you want to play games). But it far outdoes any tablet.

A tablets I've looked at as serious contenders, frankly suck. They are around $700, have low storage memory, must be tethered to a cellular plan, and cannot run anything better than what I already have on my very spacious 4.x" phone screen. My netbook, on the other hand, was $199, has more storage than I'll need in a portable situation, works with Wifi, Cisco VPN (which most phones/tablets don't), and is very compact with the same or larger screen size as most tablets (~10")

For me, an overpriced, underfeatured, cellular locked tablet makes no sense. Oooo, it has a touch screen... big freaking deal! Oooo, I have a keyboard with a netbook... now that's a real consideration for having something in the "gap" between my phone and a desktop. My battery is also much better than any tablet, because I don't need something equivalent to an OLED screen. It's backlit, and I can watch netflix just fine on it.

This same lack of gap is the reason your average power user who must choose between a MacBook Air and an iPad will automatically go with the MacBook (if you were to remove cost from the equation).

I'm not saying I'm against tablets, or necessarily for netbooks. They just make more sense to someone like me. Now, if I wanted to replace my smartphone with a simple feature phone, and also ditch my netbook, then a tablet may fill the new gap left. And besides early adopters, I think that's the real market.

The problem is this: more companies make more money from tablets. The market (after the initial waves of early adopters are saturated) is that group that has an older desktop, a feature phone, and no portable computers. That's the "sweet spot". But, tablet prices are so expensive, that only early adopters and those with large disposable incomes are really taking too them. The fact that only the iPad has had any real success is actually a bad sign for Apple. It is the exception that proves the rule. It shows that those who might go with a cheaper tablet just aren't, and are more apt to by a cheap smartphone. Why this is bad for Apple is that these are people speaking with their wallets saying, "It may be neat, but it's not something I can live without (like a phone), and not willing to shell out the extra money for (like a phone)." It puts the iPad in the position of the MacBook Air, which is to say that it will have a low market saturation, unlike the iPhone. And the iPhone was able to catch those users because A) people feel they need a phone, so they already need a contract and have to pay a significant amount for for anything decent, and B) they see real usability. The middle class, which has already slowed spending on televisions, computers, vacations, etc. see the tablet as a luxury item, and the phone as a necessity.

A netbook, too, is a luxury item. But it is easier for a parent to justify a $199 purchase for school, because it's better than a $2000 laptop or a $700 tablet... and parents (though maybe not cutting edge educators) see the tablet as a toy, not a tool. Netbooks also come with no contract, and that's a deal breaker for most people still struggling in this sluggish economy. And that, the economy, is the reason for Netbooks not being in the news, unless you consider ChromeOS... which might be a stroke of genius for Google to sneak in under the tight budget radar, assuming they can par down the contract costs a GREAT deal.

Re:They aren't dead. (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553598)

I just got a Genesi Efika, which is an 800MHz ARM Cortex A8 CPU running Ubuntu. The software stack is an embarrassment. Canonical were apparently paid to port Ubuntu to it, but half of the standard system apps don't fit properly onto the screen. If Canonical is happy shipping that, then they're a company that I'm going to make damn sure I never do business with. The 'Linux' bit is no worse than Linux on any other architecture, but the stuff on top is a disaster.

It was the popularity of Linux that was to blame (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36553316)

It was the popularity of Linux that was to blame. By being a wedge of installs of Linux MS couldn't get involved in, it HAD to be quashed.

To fit the restricted Windows OS on, it needed more memory, more disk and a faster CPU.

To pay for that AND the license for windows made it more expensive.

HOWEVER, all the big names in the business ALSO had to sell Windows machines.

Therefore they HAD to see more Windows netbooks.

Therefore the netbooks HAD to become more expensive.

And they therefore became less attractive. Especially when all that extra hardware required more power which turned an 8-12 hour netbook into a tiny 4-6 hour mini-laptop.

I know who! (1)

trum4n (982031) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553318)

Intel did. By making the Atom so damn slow. And for somereason, mine benchmarks at about 60% of its speed when i got it 2 years ago. Fresh install before both benchmarks. Did they build these things to "age" and get us to buy new ones? Thing used to be fast, but now, its nearly useless.

Re:I know who! (2)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553408)

The same things that made the Atom slow also made it EXTREMELY power-efficient. So the Atom is, if anything, the #1 reason for the success of netbooks - it was impossible to achieve such light weight and long battery life at that price point with any other processor (except possibly ARM - although most ARM-based netbooks are NOT competitive with Atom in the price/performance arena.)

However, Atom does not seem to have evolved/improved much at all. It's biggest Achilles heel was the platform's inability to effectively run streaming Video, although Adobe is more to blame than Intel for that - Flash is an evil CPU hog.

Re:I know who! (1)

trum4n (982031) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553484)

Mine was perfectly fine when i got it, now no matter what i do in software, it flat out isn't as fast. It runs at the correct clock speed, it just gets less done. The fact that it can't play HD videos or youtube has a long list of people that need shot. Adobe and Intel are both on that list.

Re:I know who! (3, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553638)

although most ARM-based netbooks are NOT competitive with Atom in the price/performance arena

I have an ARM-based laptop. With an 800MHz Cortex A8, it is fine for general use. Compiling takes a long time, but clock for clock it compiles things at about the same speed as my Core 2 Duo (i.e. the dual-core 2.16GHz machine runs make -j2 in about 1/5th of the time that the 800MHz one runs make on a big project). The main problem is that Freescale has been really rubbish at releasing specs, so there are no accelerated drivers for the GPU or other coprocessors. The hardware has a decent 3D accelerator and can do H.264 encoding / decoding in a dedicated coprocessor, but the current software stack does all of that stuff on the ARM core, which makes it seem much slower than it should be.

Netbooks are dead? (4, Interesting)

DiSKiLLeR (17651) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553322)

I see them everywhere in Australia and New Zealand.

Every computer store carries a bunch of them... I own one, and absolutely love it, and use it along side my 17" Alienware all the time.

Smartphones are great, and i've had an iPhone 3G since it came out and now an iPhone 4.... but it still can't be used for real work running real apps like a netbook.

The iPhone/iPad and other tablets are just for consuming media, not real work. Ultra portables like my netbook are a godsend when I need to be mobile around a large office or in the datacenter.

Nobody (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553338)

The netbook is not dead, although manufacturers are trying to kill them because the profit margin is thinner than they would like. Personally, I think the netbook market would be significantly bigger, except for the fact that nobody seems to want to make dirt cheap one. I firmly believe that if a manufacturer were willing to make a sub $200 netbook with a 7-9 inch screen, they would develop a solid following. They would need to be perfectly upfront in their marketing that this was not a laptop replacement.

Re:Nobody (1)

davide marney (231845) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553458)

Make that a 10-12 inch screen. The earlier screen were really too darned small.

Re:Nobody (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553590)

Make that a 10-12 inch screen. The earlier screen were really too darned small.

Then it is a cheap, small laptop. At that size, there is no way that consumers are going to perceive it as a different category of device from a laptop. In which case, a significant number of people are going to buy it thinking that it is a laptop substitute and be angry that it is underpowered (and doesn't run Windows, because I don't see how you can reach the price point--under $200--and run Windows).

Its the price (4, Insightful)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553350)

ok, in 2011 show me a netbook for 100$ that is not used, stolen, older than dirt and beat up, or one of those useless CE devices.

The price is what is killing them, they have not changed stats much if at all and after years on the market they have hit an artificially invoked 279$ price point that never seems to drift much. then the question becomes "well do I spend 300$ on a gimpy screen, gimpy keyboard, gimpy ram, video cpu for what turns out to be a darn near 4 year old computer? or do I just go ahead and get that dual core gateway for 50 bucks more

Re:Its the price (2)

ilsaloving (1534307) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553442)

Don't forget size and weight. If you routinely walk around carrying lots of other stuff, suddenly every inch and pound matters. I know people who bought netbooks specifically for that reason. Performance is largely irrelevant when you're doing casual or office work.

Re:Its the price (2)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553534)

I dont forget size and weight but that argument has been paper thin since day one, and is even thinner with tablets, yea OK a small amount of netbook users somehow cant find a desk terminal in a data center and praise the fact they can work in excel in the park, but honestly most people dont give a shit... they just want a cheap notebook

Re:Its the price (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553688)

No it hasn't. Anyone who travels as part of their job will be much happier carrying a 1kg device than a 3kg device. Tablets don't fit into this equation because doing a lot of typing on a tablet is a pain in the ass. There's no way I'd carry this 17" monster any further than the lounge, but my 11" netbook travels too and from work with me every day and I do work while travelling.

Re:Its the price (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553738)

ok fine netbooks are portable gold star to you, you win

now what the fuck does this have to do with my 100$ argument? for what they are they are artificially priced 4 year old computer, you can buy the same thin in notebook form factor for 60 bucks used on ebay all day long, that's what is killing them, the artificial price

and omg grow up, if you think 3kg is heavy go to the freakin gym and quit sitting on your mobile ass in front of the netbook all day

Well... (3, Insightful)

atomicbutterfly (1979388) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553352)

The shitty and hacked-up Linux 'distros' which appeared on the first netbooks certainly didn't help. Buggy, slow and lacking in functionality when compared to a clean install of something like Ubuntu. It's almost as if they wanted the bloody things to fail...

Re:Well... (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553612)

It's not just netbooks, I've seen quite a few desktops that came with absolute rubbish distros.

Fatalistic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36553364)

I recently brought a netbook for my girlfriend who uses it for writing/researching her PHD. It has 2.5kg so its decent to carry, runs Win7 Professional without a hitch.

Who's dieing and where? I would like to see how you type pages upon pages on a tablet whilst traveling...

Eyestrain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36553378)

First generation of buyers bought it because it was tiny, portable and cheap. Once they got it, most realized that screen resolution is not functional enough to continue buying into netbook format...

11.x and 13.x "notebook" to the rescue.

laptop/notebook/netbook (1)

pr100 (653298) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553380)

Are there really well defined distinctions between these three terms?

Intermediate stage (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553382)

Tablet and smartphones popularity, with all their disadvantages, showed that "something" was missing. And i'd say that was touchscreen and availability of lots of cheap apps. Forcing Windows in them, making that either were more expensive, or slower, or with outdated OS, were a suicidal move. Even the few that had touchscreen (or being windows tablets directly) with a desktop not meant for touchscreen were a waste. I have my hopes on netvertibles with Android 3.x/Meego or even "normal" linux distribution with meegoish user interfaces (heck, even sugar interface should rock in that kind of hardware)

Apple right (1)

grodzix (1235802) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553396)

Are you saying that Apple was right once again? That netbooks aren't really feasible market? Damn those magicians...

Re:Apple right (1)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553664)

If you look carefully, you'll find that the iPod sales are declining even faster.

Re:Apple right (1)

grodzix (1235802) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553716)

After how many, 10 years?

It's not dead! (1)

ilsaloving (1534307) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553398)

It's just pining for the fjords!

But seriously, I haven't seen any decrease in popularity for netbooks. Tablets and Netbooks arn't even in the same market. Tablets are primarily consumption devices that lets you get occasional work done, and netbooks are essentially cheap disposable ultra-compact computers that you can still actively do work on. You can still do word processing and other office work relatively easily on a netbook. Tablets are outstanding when you want to just curl up on the couch and surf the web or read or watch something.

I see plenty of room in the marketplace for both types of devices. I'll be curious to see what happens when the keyboarded tablets appear in quanitity, like the Asus Transformer and Slider.

A little bit disappointed (1)

aaaaaaargh! (1150173) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553402)

I don't think netbooks are dead yet but at least the development in the past few years has disappointed me a little bit. I was hoping and looking for ultra-cheap ( $200, possibly even below $100), light and slow devices with non-glare screens. Instead "netbooks" basically evolved into small laptops with glare screens (=unusable for anyone who wants to seriously write with them outside). They are still in the lower price categories but have certainly not become the really inexpensive, disposable devices many people were looking for.

It also annoys me that there doesn't seem to be any affordable ultra-small device apart from the (overpriced) Netwalker. When the first Asus were launched I was hoping to see something below $300 USD that is very small, can run common GNU/linux distributions, has very long battery life (ARM based), and can ring an alarm or power up programmatically. I'd go for the Nanonote if it was just a bit more powerful and could run Emacs with org mode. (Phones mostly suck for that purpose -- they don't have enough keys and it's often hard to put Ubuntu or another decent distro on, say, an Android phone.)

That being said, I'm still very happy with my first-generation EEE PC with a replacement battery that gives me 8-9 hours battery life. I use it almost daily for writing outside and it runs the latest version of Ubuntu just fine. So, perhaps to the dismay of Asus, at least for me the netbook isn't quite dead yet.

Not so dead, just in transition (2)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553412)

The current rage with tablets is probably going to see the same ascendance and then drop of in numbers as the next attempt to fill the need arises. Netbooks for me were too crammed in screen space to be truly useful. Tablets are just to interface locked. By that I mean I need to type and typing for any period of time on a glass face just isn't enjoyable. So I figure they will merge eventually. Most everyone I know has a BT keyboard for their iPad; by most everyone I know I mean those who bring them to work; because while you can do a lot with them creating new content is not one of the things that is easy.

So touch screen netbooks are most likely next. Combine the best features of both. Until you can get accurate voice entry of text I don't see an easy way to overcome the need to enter data of that form and the glass surface is not conducive to that.

What gets me about tablets is that I have yet to find one that is semi useful outdoors. Solve that and then you will have something. Right now they are geek toys which thousands of geeks are doing their best to come up with applications to justify their fascination. Too many adaptations come across as a kludge. That is not to say there are not some unique and truly enjoyable apps, its just saying that tablets are still too much of a compromise as netbooks were.

So next gen - something along the lines of a touch screen enabled MBA. The size is right and the functionality is much higher than a tablet or netbook by themselves.

Re:Not so dead, just in transition (1)

jmac_the_man (1612215) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553466)

So touch screen netbooks are most likely next. Combine the best features of both.

Check out the Asus Transformer. For $550, it's a 16 GB Android tablet with a keyboard/trackpad that attaches to it and folds over the entire screen. (Note that the keyboard is a separate piece than the tablet proper, and $550 is the cost for both pieces together.)

Netbook easily the best computer I ever bought (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36553420)

Value/price was much worse for all other mobile computers. I almost never carried those along, so their mobile value was basically zero. At home they were always inferior to the desktop machine, so I hardly used them at all. The netbook is different: The netbook enabled access to all my software, my data and the internet in a very portable device with long battery life and the flexibility of a "real" computer. Faster would be better, but only without sacrificing the battery life, size and weight advantage. The netbook is the affordable "ultraportable", a class of mobile computers which existed long before netbooks but used to be priced as an executive toy.

My netbook is not dead.

Not dead, just mis-priced (1)

davide marney (231845) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553422)

I snagged a couple of nice Samsung netbooks for $250 recently. These are great little boxes, with more than enough oomph for Linux Mint and 6 hours of battery life. They do everything an iPad does for 1/2 the cost.

Maybe we don't need a $100 price-point, but even $175 would be a game-changer. When you add in the cost of a binder cover and a bluetooth keyboard, the cost of an iPad starts looking pretty ridiculous.

Is it dead? (1)

zr-rifle (677585) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553426)

As a commuter, I see plenty of netbooks. I never had the impression that they were going away. Heck, even Apple makes netbooks now. Even seen the "new" MacBook Air? It comes in 11 and 13 inch models.

600 pixels vertical resoution, that's what. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36553450)

I've got one. The lack of vertical resolution is crippling for long-term use. Even the 800 pixel
vertical resolution on a lot of laptops is a disadvantage.

Re:600 pixels vertical resoution, that's what. (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553684)

It's not just netbooks. Widescreen is perhaps the worst thing to happen to monitors. This bullshit lets manufacturers sell a screen with smaller area as the same "inches".

O RLY??? (1)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553464)

To me it looks like they'll still keep their market niche.

I'm currently looking into buying one myself because I want a larger PMP replacement to watch movies during train rides and maybe play the occasional game (DOSBox nostalgia). For that kind of stuff a netbook with a 300+ GB HDD is the perfect choice and I can simply swap battery packs during longer trips.
Certainly better than having to take my laptop on trips where I don't really need such a powerful CPU.

Price is the problem (2)

indymike (1604847) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553474)

I can get a Netbook with a wimpy Atom processor, 1GB of RAM and a little, cute hard drive at the local Best Buy / Fry's / Wherever for $259. I can get this week's on-sale full size laptop with a dual core 64 bit processor 3GB of RAM, and 300 or 500GB of storage for $329. To make the netbook useful, I'll need to add memory, so after a $49 upgrade, I'm at $308 anyway... so for $21 more I get a useful computer. It doesn't make sense to buy the netbook.

Re:Price is the problem (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553710)

Until you have to carry it around with you.

Terribly-written article (1)

pays-vert (1182777) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553488)

Meandering argument, constant repetition and wild swings in tone and style. My favorite:

"The weapons were surprisingly numerous, too. Each one has a different opportunity. No single one of them murdered them, and while there was conspiracy, there was also the accident of bad timing: the right formula at the wrong time."

Back to journo school methinks.

Only thing my Eee is missing (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553510)

Is a 1280x800 resolution screen - perhaps 11 inch size.

I beg to differ (1)

senorpoco (1396603) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553546)

I love my netbook, it lets me actually do work instead of just being able to playing angry birds. I can type out a word document without getting my screen all greasy and developing and RSI.

Who killed the netbook, revealed below the fold... (2)

hey! (33014) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553562)

OK, ready for it?

The same people who killed the mainframe.

Netbooks are dead because... (1)

mschaffer (97223) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553570)

The only advantage netbooks currently have is that they have a keyboard for long text entries (e.g. word processing).
Technology changes. Tablets (like the iPad & Samsung Tab 10.1) have screens that are nicer than most netbooks and no hard drives, have longer battery life, almost 100% up-time, and are easier to use. Since most people only used their netbooks for social media and web browsing why bother with the complication of an actual PC.
Netbooks also made lousy PCs. Screens are too small, Too little memory, too little processor horsepower to play games, etc.
Linux is irrelevant.

Re:Netbooks are dead because... (1)

Arlet (29997) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553654)

My netbook also has an ethernet port, 3 USB ports, and a slot for an SD card. I use all of those on a regular basis.

I use it for programming, and for that purpose, it works a lot better than a tablet. It's also much easier to carry around in a back pack than a full size laptop, while offering almost the same usability.

Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36553574)

The netbook nominally - Intel netbook has gone through a very very slow upgrade process. The upgrade process has actually been tied to an increase in price towards the low end notebook market. The upgraded units feature things like creeping Atom improvements and very little else. Perhaps slightly larger disks or a little more ram or a Broadcom media card. But in general, you can argue that they have stepped little forward since inception. Perhaps improvements in battery life could be applied. But in a wide general sense, very little improvement.

Derived units - Like Ion units are better, but still limited computers. But have they failed? When you hunt and find discounted units, and when the price is right, they still make great minimalist fun computing devices. I've been through multiple units, and have handed them on to people as gifts, and frankly people love them in the instance of the low cost fun units. They are less loveable if you pay £300 and start off with the miss-appreciation that they will provide a fully rounded decent computing platform. In that its beyond their grasp, but also beyond fair expectation.

So, in my humble option, £100 netbooks are fantastic, £150 if you have an expanded ION based unit or similar, and they still make great Linux portables, or second machines, or fun boxes for people who are not heavy users. The failure if there is on, is in the high cost and failure to modernise. If they are really going to be £300 in cost, then they need to be much more rounded, rather than crippled.

iOS killed the Netbook Star (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553594)

I sniffed you on the wireless running Firefox 2
Downloading porn that suited you
I could install Fedora on my netbook too

Oh-a oh

Then the iPod delivered a symphony
They marketed this crappy technology
But Jobs put the kebosh on porn, you see

Oh-a oh

I saw your iPhone
Oh-a oh

What did you tell them?
iOS killed the netbook star
iOS killed the netbook star

The iPad came and broke your heart
Oh-a-a-a oh

And now we surf in an abandoned studio
We watch some porn and it seems so long ago
And you remember the cumshots used to go

Oh-a oh

You love the app store
Oh-a oh

You hate the app store

iOS killed the netbook star
iOS killed the netbook stat
In my hands and in my car,
We can't uninstall we've gone too far
Oh-a-aho oh
Oh-a-aho oh

iOS killed the netbook star
iOS killed the netbook star

In my hands and in my car
We can't uninstall we've gone too far
The iPad came and broke your heart
Put the blame on marketing

You are a netbook star
You are a netbook star
iOS killed the netbook star
iOS killed the netbook star
iOS killed the netbook star
iOS killed the netbook star

iOS killed the netbook star
You are a netbook star

Netbooks never really existed (1)

mutherhacker (638199) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553602)

Netbooks only existed in your marketing brainwashed mind.

Ni l'un ni l'autre (1)

frisket (149522) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553610)

Was the unpopularity of Linux to blame?

No, it's just the people still want to use installed software. Despite popular belief, there is more to using a computer than the Web.

LOL dead? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36553628)

Well I happen to work for a provincial government in Canada, in the education sector, dealing specifically with the IT infrastructure and Laptop / Netbook project that is currently in it's 6 year and continues to expand. We have thousands of laptops and NETBOOKS in circulation throughout the province, with the end goal of every student having a NETBOOK in their hand.


That sounds like an agenda article more than anything, the netbook is hardly dead, it's finding it's niche. I don't expect them to "take off" until the next generation of technology allows faster, smaller, and cooler, hardware.

I see the "pad" fad dying off before netbooks are taken off the shelves.

Nobody there were stillborn (1)

TRRosen (720617) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553636)

Netbooks never really were the solution people wanted because there still not usable casually. There still just a small notebook that really needs to be on a stable flat surface. To small for a home computer since a few dollars more will get you a desktop with a nice big screen and not convenient enough on the go. They were just a stopgap till the iPad.

Nope (1)

xclr8r (658786) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553672)

As a one off anecdote my institution is buying 40 of them for a mobile training unit that can move from room to room for training sessions. We were looking at tablets, hybrids and netbooks and ended up choosing what would most simulate the experience the user would have with out the instructor there.

Who killed the netbook? (1)

Dwonis (52652) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553686)


Misidentified market definitely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36553692)

Netbooks killed netbooks...Not in a grand conspiracy sort of way... just that the Apps people *thought* they wanted to run needed far more CPU power than this and Windows 7 lite or whatever its called couldn't hack it. Netbooks were/are just cheap incrementally backstepped PCs. So who wants *less* capability just because its cheap> Tehre's a tiny market for that ... sure. Netbooks have revolutionized IT Networking and Infosec jumpbags. That's a pretty niche world and it's a one trick pony. It's portable. it's light. It's weak.

The big problem is along came iPhone, iPad, and all the Android based systems that show you that what you *thought* you wanted to run on these systems, you don't really need and having a device that puts the power in the right place ( awesome battery performance and leveraged GPU and compelling UI ) makes you gravitate to that.

THink about it.... the $200 netbook is being destroyed by the $699 ipad. That alone speaks volumes... consumers are willing to pay TRIPLE the price of a netbook for something they can actually use.

Vendors: Netbooks “dying, honest” (5, Funny)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553706)

DAS BUNKER, Redmond, Friday (MSBBC) — Cheap netbooks are too limited and no-one will want them any more, say high-ticket vendors at the mere 103% increase in netbook sales in 2009 over 2008.

The small, portable computers sold in stupendous numbers in 2009, but industry watchers have been convinced by Microsoft and Intel to say that their popularity is waning. “No-one is buying a 10-inch netbook that costs £500 and runs Windows 7,” said Stuart Miles of Pocket Unit. “So everyone will go back to expensive iPhones and full-sized laptops, any day now. This ‘internet’ thing is just a fad too.”

What people are looking for now, he believes, is a machine that can keep up with the demands of contemporary web users. A small netbook running Windows 7 Dumbass Edition, which runs up to three applications at a time and holds your data hostage until you cough up eighty quid to run a fourth, is “thoroughly inadequate” to the task. “Linux, of course, doesn’t exist, wasn’t the impetus for cheap netbooks and didn’t cripple Microsoft’s bottom line for the last three years by providing actual competition for the first time in decades. So it’s not like it can do twice as much in half the space.”

Ian Drew, spokesman for chip designer ARM Holdings, also believes netbooks are in for a shake-up. “Apparently, netbooks that weigh nothing, run twice as fast and have an all-day battery but don’t run Windows are a problem for ARM, not for Microsoft,” he said, lighting a cigar off a fifty-pound note.

Mr Miles believes tablets will take up the mantle from the netbook. “If we carefully define tablets as ‘not netbooks,’ even though they’re made by the same companies with the same technology running the same software, we can claim the netbook is dead even though people are suddenly realising how stupidly huge, unwieldy and heavy even a fourteen-inch laptop is. It’s all about picking your terms rather than, e.g., selling what people actually want instead of what you’d like them to want. Also, if you whack in a 3G modem it’s suddenly a phone instead, and never mind the Mini 9.”

“Clap your hands if you don’t believe in netbooks,” said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. “Marketers! Marketers! Marketers! Marketers!”

Photo: Netbook, circa 1982 [] .

Not lack of demand, lack of offer (1)

amn108 (1231606) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553726)

I never believed in the idea.

1. People usually, ladies especially, carry a bag that is almost A4 dimensions, or at least A3. One can thus argue that the factor for portable computers is not width and depth but weight and height(thickness).

2. Straining your eyes to distinguish, perceive and interpret information on a smaller screen is not really fun. People prefer bigger screens, they just don't like all the extra weight and dimensions that come with it. Add to this the fact that we still don't have enough flexibility in modern operating systems to imploy the concept of angular-size for on-screen widgets, operating instead with pixels and points, and the miniature UI widgets designed for larger screens simply border on annoying for users of netbooks. A netbook with Windows 7? Hmm, would you run Windows 7 desktop on your HTC smartphone? As it is often closer to your netbook profile than your desktop or notebook is. Anything less than 12" is not a true computer for many. It's not the screen, it's the weight too. If you had a 12" in your bag that weighed 1 pound and was half an inch thick, it'd be no problem. But carrying around 3 pounds worth of 3 hours of battery life doesn't justify anything else really.

3. It is not hard to come to the conclusion that because of different factors, not the least of which is price and affordability, as the size of a notebook shrinks to that of a typical netbook, its weight, height don't shrink so much and the battery life doesn't increase by as much, but by less and less. In math terms the formula is "weight*height/battery = log(width*height)" (width and height can also correlate to screen and keyboard size.) People quickly realize that they rather spend $200 more for something that has 50% larger screen and 20% more weight, same thickness and same battery life.

4. Netbooks are too slow for the kind of software they made run. When they do run the software written for their power envelope, they run into a different problem - lack of applications. Linux didn't catch on (it has apps) because people were either scared off or because Microsoft screamed their lungs out that Windows, again, rules. They all use Windows 7 which is slow as molasses on a typical Atom netbook.

5. Same as screen, goes for keyboards. You can't shrink your fingers. And so we're back to a minimum human keyboard width - i would say Thinkpad X 12" line has as narrow keyboard as a person could comfortably use. You CAN'T make it smaller without changing the definition of what a touch keyboard is.

To sum up, people don't hate portable computers. They hate their weight, height, that the keyboard keys are too smal and too narrow, that the software is not optimized for their screens or hardware, and that they don't get as much battery as they would like. As for battery, it's a joke really - Atom CPU has around 1/4 to 1/8th of a typical Cores TDP, but because Windows is not optimized for Atom CPUs, and because they are often the LEAST POWER HUNGRY element in the entire hardware platform, the would be battery benefit is not there.

You want to revive the netbook market, shrink height and weight, make them wider for a fuller-size keyboard or drop parts of less-used qwerty layout (the Tab, Caps, L-Shift column along with tilde, F1, Esc and Fn - move them somewhere else).

Actually, a good netbook I saw recently is the Toshiba A100. The problem is it is based on NVidia Ion and to boot Linux on it you have to sit on hacker forums for 3 months straight and prey to NVidia they release another new firmware version which fixes issues you didn't know existed.

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