The computer proletariat is rising up - and computing will never be the same. Tiny, sub-$500 "netbooks" like the Asus Eee are the hottest thing going in notebooks today. And some surprising things are happening. Like housewives on Linux.
Asus is forecasting worldwide shipments of 10 million 7 to 10 inch screen netbooks this year! And a billion in 2018.
Appliance computing In an article in the Asian business publication Tech-on reporter Tomohiro Otsuki writes:
Retailers and contract manufacturers in Taiwan say that novice PC users there, like students and housewives, tend to buy the Linux version of the Eee PC701, while geeks go for Windows XP.
Does that sound backwards?
Yet a quick look at Amazon shows that Asus Eee's with XP roughly $35-$100 more than their Linux brethern. Housewives know a bargain when they see one.
Microsoft Research's Gordon Bell noted that every 10 years a new form of computing emerges thanks to Moore's Law and the declining cost/increasing performance of ICs. Looks like the netbook is this decade's new form: a minimalist computer for Internet, email, chatting, video and light application use.
The new market leaders A big surprise is that inventors and leaders in this new segment are the Taiwanese firms that build, for other people, most of the world's notebooks. The contract manufacturers, who mostly assemble to spec, are enjoying the freedom to build their own products using their own sense of what the market wants.
Taiwan is the wild East. Expect some crazy experiments - and some revolutionary products.
The Storage Bits take This is the chance Linux partisans have been waiting for - and it's coming faster than I'd expected. Microsoft is reportedly charging $60 for netbook XP - a big chunk of a $200 computer's cost. As Netscape discovered it is hard to compete with "free."
If Taiwanese housewives are buying Linux the guys in Redmond need to sharpen their pencils. Housewives don't need Office and Exchange. What do they need?
And Apple will be late to this party as they've got their hands full with the iPhone and Snow Leopard. Apple has a history of missing these big shifts - if they haven't invented them - as they did with towers replacing desktops in the mid-90s.
The netbook space promises to be a lot of fun.
Comments welcome, of course. Maybe Taiwanese housewives are really really smart?