The journalist group that I belong to, CyberPress, held our regular industry forum last Friday and I should say that it was the best that we've ever had since we started the discussion way back in 2005.
It was a hastily organized event since most of our officers, including myself, were busy with various coverages and writing assignments. But, luckily, the turnout was good and the heckling, well, was great, too.
The forum's topic was on netbooks, which are also sometimes called sub-laptops or UMPCs, short for ultra-mobile PCs. We picked the theme in order to give the public, particularly the IT media, an idea where this product category is heading.
I think it was the first time the local chiefs of chipmakers Intel and AMD appeared and spoke in the same event together. It was the same case with major netbook vendors, namely Acer, Asus, Lenovo, Red Fox, Neo, Blue and MSI (I hope I didn't missed anyone).
Dell confirmed its attendance but backed out at the last minute, while Hewlett-Packard said it was coming but didn't show up. As a result, a number of comments took a swipe at the HP Mini for overheating. Unfortunately, there was no one from the company to explain why.
Software vendor Microsoft was also there to provide some information on its software offerings on netbooks. Though spokesperson Abet dela Cruz didn't give any Powerpoint presentation, he took the opportunity to articulate the company's current plans on this new market segment. He said Microsoft would still continue to provide Windows XP to netbooks for at least a year, although the company has already announced that it will soon stop supporting the operating system.
We couldn't find anyone from the open source sector to speak about the Linux OS running on most netbooks. So when the colorful Jason Teh, marketing manager of Asus, revealed that the Taiwanese netbook pioneer was dropping Linux on all of its upcoming Eee PC models because Filipinos don't like using the OS, no open source advocate was around to make a comment.
One of the most interesting parts of the program was when Teh and Agnes Espino of Acer Philippines traded friendly banters about the market shares of their respective models. The guy representing MSI also brought the house down with his witty jabs on his competitors, as well as on Intel, which he said will delay the release of more powerful chips to make the most out the shelf-life of its current products.
But, perhaps the most provocative remark came from Sonny Sy, the lone staff of AMD's local office, who said the netbook is just a fad that will eventually fade in favor of more mobile devices that offer the same functionalities of netbooks.
Later in the discussion, Sy added that AMD will come out--in about two quarters from now--with a new platform targeted at the netbook segment. I then asked if he thinks netbooks are merely a passing fancy, then why is AMD coming out with a new platform complete with a new processor and chipsets.
The AMD exec explained that the new platform, while aimed at netbooks, will be positioned in the long term and will be ready to seize the opportunity when smaller, but better notebooks, emerge in the market.
Overall, the forum was engaging and vibrant with all participants all eager to know where this exciting new product category is heading. It was the type of discussion which our group had been longing for, and we hope to do it again the next time.