You're going to be hearing a lot about whether the iPad can be an adequate replacement for the netbook, which Steve Jobs derided when he first announced the Apple tablet back in January. In particular, netbooks with 10-inch screens appear vulnerable as their screen size is similar to the iPad's 9.7-inch display.
Perhaps due to a bit of iPad anticipation, the sales growth of netbooks has slowed this year compared to the mania for the devices last year. The effects seem to be hitting the 10-inch varieties first, as DigiTimes is reporting that Dell and HP are scaling back their production of these netbooks, and floating the rumor that HP may abandon the 10-inch netbook market altogether.
That doesn't mean netbooks with larger displays are doing much better. DigiTimes has also reported that companies that produce netbook screens are seeing slowing sales of their panels, which indicates reduced demand for the portables. As BusinessWeek points out, there's been some buyers' remorse with the whole category, as the cramped keyboards and limited specs have disappointed people expecting an experience closer to one from a full-sized notebook. (Then again, what should they be expecting for $299?)
Of course, you can see where things are headed. With strong iPad pre-sales, the pace that PC makers will pump out their own tablets will quicken considerably. Add to that the growing power of ultra-light notebooks, and the netbook may become an evolutionary dead-end for portable computers sooner than later. Do you agree?