Apple disses netbooks, again

Apple disses netbooks, again

Summary: When asked about netbooks on today's Q2 2009 earning conference call Apple’s chief operating officer Timothy D.

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TOPICS: Hardware, Apple, Mobility
96

steve-chippy/Flickr)When asked about netbooks on today's Q2 2009 earning conference call Apple’s chief operating officer Timothy D. Cook took a couple of pointed shots at the ultra-small notebooks, saying (paraphrased):

  • I see cramped keyboards, terrible software, junky hardware, small screens, things I would not put the Mac brand on
  • Not interested in them in the short term
  • We do look at ths space and interested to see how our customers react to them
  • The iPhone and iPod touch already do a lot of what a netbook does
  • If we find a way to deliver an innovative product we'll do that
  • We have interesting ideas in the space
  • It's a stretch to call netbooks personal computers, they're propping up PC manufacturer's numbers

Does Apple just have its head in the sand or is it intentionally hiding the fact that it's secretly developing a netbook?

Photo: Cult of Mac

Topics: Hardware, Apple, Mobility

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96 comments
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  • Will they or won't they?!?

    [i]Does Apple have their head in the sand or are they intentionally hiding the fact that they?re going to enter the space?[/i]

    I think it's super interesting that Apple commands so much attention in a market niche they aren't even participating in. How much blog space has been devoted to a product that doesn't exist? That's some crazy marketing mojo right there ...
    RationalGuy
    • Only Apple could...

      Only Apple could generate so much news over a product they don't even sell.
      BillDem
  • If it sucks so bad, then why not show us how it should be done?

    I'm someone who is very much against the "Mac CULTure" because it seems to encourage hatred and bitterness over what... the choice of OS? And once again we're seeing how poorly the Mac community looks because of their cockiness.

    I agree, the state of Netbooks isn't that great right now, but why slam them? The "cheap-ass disposable notebook" field is actually newer than you'd think so rather than acting like you're too good for it then why not put your money where your mouth is and improve it.

    I've used a OSX Dell Mini 9 for a week and while I definitely do feel it has shortcomings, it is a $200 SOLUTION to a problem Apple refuses to address. iPod Touch and iPhone are amazing products but they aren't in the same catagory so hopefully Apple can spend less time crafting snarky remarks and spend more time creating a kick-butt Netbook.

    (Oh, and when you finally do lower yourselves to the level of the average consumer then please don't charge me $400 for it. We know how much these parts cost...)
    Urkel
    • pro

      well, i am soneone who is very much for the mac culture. but anyway ... i
      think the reason apple dosen't want to play in the netbbok segment is
      that there seems to be no money in it. if they find a way to deliver a 35%
      margin product which is not cannibalising macbook sales they will do it.
      so i don't think it will be a 10" macbook, rather a 10" multitouch tablet
      with the iphone os for $799 or subsidized by carriers. they already made
      more than clear on the 3rd consecutive conference call that they don't
      want to play in the traditional netbook market.
      bannedfromzdnetagain
      • Apple tablet? Maybe, maybe not.

        From what I can find, they "patented" something like a tablet four years ago, but it makes me wonder how they can patent something we saw "conceptualized" on ST:TNG in 1983...

        I would expect there to be a "prior art" issue there.
        PollyProteus
    • Maybe they will, maybe they can't

      I don't think Cook would have said any thing about netbooks, except
      the press keeps asking questions about when Apple will enter the
      segment.

      Because, there's this line which goes like this, Macs are expensive, it's
      a recession, netbooks show growth, therefore APPLE MUST MAKE A
      NETBOOK, WHY AREN'T YOU MAKING A NETBOOK... BECAUSE WE ALL
      KNOW YOU NEED TO MAKE A NETBOOK, WHERE'S THAT NETBOOK,
      YOU ARE DOOOOOOOOMED UNLESS YOU BRING OUT A NETBOOK
      YESTERDAY.

      My bad, you also have joined the play-sayers in calling for Apple to
      jump into the game, but with more pleasantry, only a few insults for
      the company and customers, and sans any rude typography. You make
      good points, but omit one consideration, what's the business case? Do
      good companies really rush into a market for no other reason than
      others are doing it? Recollections of rhetorical questions from Mom
      about lakes, friends, and jumping come to mind.

      I do think something is in the works. In the meantime, if they don't
      want to play that game now or later, where's the problem? More
      money for everyone else, right?

      I guess the bright side to all this is no one is burning any electrons to
      tell Apple that it really needs to sell OS X to any one if it wants to
      finally achieve any business success. When viewed from the world of
      punditry, I guess the iPhone was a game changer.
      DannyO_0x98
      • You completely miss "The Apple Way" of doing things

        I agree with two things it appears you are saying.

        1. A smart company doesn't risk losing money or even poor profitability on a product that doesn't sell well.

        2. There is no common factor in business that dictates that if one or more companies in the industry is doing something it provides a compelling reason for other companies to do it as well.

        But all that aside, seriously, you have to understand, I cannot believe that you wouldn't understand what Apple is doing here. Its pretty blatant. Apple certainly sees potential in the netbook market, the potential is there and thats obvious and the market has only just begun in any real way within the last year. Its a new market for the most part but its off to a very decent start given the early offerings. What ever devious marketing schemes Apple has been involved in doesn't mean they are stupid, it probably means they are quite smart; particularly when working on marketing their products.

        Apple knows fully well that its recent high profile reputation over the last several years has come out of providing products (read in here first iPod then iPhone)that were well designed, took some new innovative approaches and as a result made some good improvements on current popular products and then hit the market with overwhelming sales followed up by largely great reviews of their offerings. Like I said, Apple isn't stupid, they know there is a segment of the population waiting for Apple to produce a real flop, and because Apple always charges a good buck for their products a flop would be a real black eye.

        Figure it out, Apple is already looking to see what they are capable of doing in the netbook market, they are not just sitting back doing nothing and waiting for other companies to saturate the market and get a real advantage before they even start. Its clear thats not "The Apple Way".

        Comments like "cramped keyboards" are an absolute dead giveaway. Apple knows that there are a vast multitude of products with far far more cramped keyboards that sell in the multi millions, like cell phones for one example. That in no way is going to even slow Apple down, never mind make them avoid netbook research completely.

        "Junkie hardware" is another dead giveaway comment. Junkie hardware implies that the products that are currently available have junkie hardware, and thats a reason not to purchase those products. He is saying that he wouldn't put the Apple name on such junkie hardware, but sure, you can bet if Apple does end up making a netbook they will say that they are not selling the junky hardware but instead quality hardware. All those statements are just there to discourage people from spending their "netbook dollars" and hanging on to them instead. Apple doesn't want to see the netbook market flooded out before they can produce the Apple offering so all efforts are going to be made to make current offerings sound like garbage to try and keep people from getting into a netbook yet.

        Like I said, Apple doesn't dare rush to market, if they ended up creating a monstrosity that was too overpriced and couldn't sell, or had tech issues it would be the PR disaster they work extreme overtime to avoid. When you paint every one else as selling junk and yourself as the sole source of quality its chaos if you ever get exposed as selling junk.

        I have no doubt that Apple has market studies going on right now in the netbook market and any number of persons working up the prototype for the first Apple netbook should the market prove to be long term enough to keep the interest up. Thats "The Apple Way"

        All this stupid dumbed down talk making it sound like Apple has already sized up the netbook market and dismissed it because of cramped keyboards and junkie hardware having to be used is just a stinking boat load of red herrings. Apple is just doing what it can to turn consumers off netbooks until they have their overpriced entry ready to sell, then it will be the same old Apple plan of attack; market the product as if people who buy anything else, for any good reason are dumb inarticulate homely idiots and if you want to be cool now you should buy the Apple netbook. Thats "The Apple Way".
        Cayble
        • I Agree Cayble

          I agree with your well-reasoned, well-argued comment.
          Chalfont
        • I gotta agree with this one

          The Apple Way boils down to these tenets:
          1. Make glossy, overpriced product.

          2. Market it as the Be All End All of Cool.

          3. Subtly insult people who don't - or can't - afford to buy the product or drink the Coolaid.

          4. Price-rape loyal, starry-eyed Apple customers.

          5. Light cigars with rolled-up twenty-dollar bills.
          proudgeek
    • Struck a nerve did we

      Methinks the lady doth protest too much. Why should you care what
      Apple's opinion is on anything. Do they have that much control over your
      life?
      frgough
      • "Struck a nerve did we"

        What's with this " we " statement. Do you profess to be one of the annointed bean pickers
        in Cupertino Calif., or do you claim association by proxy? It matters not, I'd rather doubt that anyone really cares what Apple does/doesn't do. If you want to spend a ton of money on overpriced hardware, be my guest.

        In these economic trying times, I'd rather believe that common sense and not histrionics will guide the average consumer, i.e. pay less for a PC or a NetBook without the Apple Logo.

        I do agree with the current batch of PC commercials that claim Apple Notebooks (and in the future iNet) are all about aesthetics. Gee, it's good not to vote Democrat nor Republican. I still have my individuality and as such I can still rely on common sense (especially in the billfold) when buying a PC/Notebook/Netbook.

        Kaptah
        • But...

          When the economy improves and more money is had (and spent) by
          consumers, Apple doesn't need a flimsy product on their record.
          upwardmultimedia
          • " But "

            This is a true and accurate statement. No company, regardless of their overall success wants a 'white elephant' hanging on their necks for the consuming world to gape at.

            HOWEVER, the good folks in Cupertino California, make the best out of the 'trendy' artsy/fartsy products that they put out. Sure, some Apple products are great, no denying that!
            But to spend big buckaroonies for a laptop that will be used for surfing the internet or sending emails is just downright ridiculous.

            Think about it, if there wasn't a market for cheaper, mass produced PC's, Notebooks, or Netbooks, carrying different Logo's, then it would be a drab, boring world with Apple in the drivers seat with a choke hold on the PC industry.

            Keep your Apples, I'll keep my oranges, which by the way are just as juicy, succulent and cheaper by the pound.
            Kaptah
      • "We"? Wake up and realize you aren't part of Apple

        Sorry, but it's always a bit pathetic to see people declare themselves as "we" when referring to Apple. You have nothing to do with Apple's success. (Which is why you don't receive a paycheck from them).

        You are a CONSUMER just like the rest of us. And if you're wondering why someone would care about Apple's opinion then it is because as CONSUMERS we aren't supposed to let a corporation dictate our needs. I want a Mac Netbook and Dell of all people is the one that proved that it could be done. So why shouldn't we put our personal needs over that of the big corporate teddy bear?
        Urkel
    • because...

      Much like the solar chip market or the unmanned aerial reconnaissance drone market or the diaper market, the netbook market is not one Apple wishes to enter yet. They pick there battles and then execute nearly flawlessly in them, continually bucking back market trends, beating estimates, then under-promising and over-delivering. You may as well ask CAT or Deere, or better-yet: BMW--why they aren't showing us how the subcompact smart-car market could cornered. Know your audience, play to that audience.

      Keep in mind that AAPL didn't issue those comments in a press release. An analyst on the earnings call asked the execs a question and they answered it.

      What a quarter!

      moteltan
      • " because "

        Keep on drinking that Grape Flavored Kool Aid.
        If it doesn't kill you (financially) then it'll make a stronger Lemming out of you.

        Me? I like variety. I like to be able to go to a Fry's store or any retail computer outlet and purchase upgrades off of the shelf should I desire to do so.

        Power supply go out? Same argument. I need'nt pay an arm, leg or my first born for hardware replacements that I can do myself.

        Look at it this way. Apple's selling points are the finished product, should something go "bump" in the night or "clang" in your PC/Notebook , then the majority of owners either can replace the faulty part or know of someone who can do it for them without having to trundle their investment off to an 'authorized' Apple Store or dealer. Which incidentally will cost you an arm, leg, or worse.

        " know your audience, play to that audience "
        truer words have never been uttered.

        What was it that PT Barnum was credited for once saying?

        " there's a sucker born every minute "
        Kaptah
        • that would explain something

          [i]" there's a sucker born every minute "[/i]

          So THAT is how Microsoft manages to sell stuff! Or would it be that,
          unless you buy a Mac, you end up with Windows whether you want it or
          not? So much for choice.
          rahbm
    • Because you can't fit parts that good into a Netbook that small.

      Your parts cost so low because they perform so low. They malfunction
      or break MUCH quicker than parts that Apple uses. A netbook can't
      perform well enough to have the Apple logo branded on the front of it.
      It's not fast enough or good enough. Apple is for people who are serious
      about having the right tools to do a better job, especially in the Creative
      arena (making movies, graphics, etc.). If you're looking to write
      documents or work with spreadsheets, get a netbook with Microsoft on
      it. It will do fine (until it crashes). Or get one and put Linux on it. Apple
      is not wasting the money because, at this point, netbook hardware is
      junk and each system would need servicing frequently compared to their
      other products.
      upwardmultimedia
      • And we have a winner!!!

        Can you show me comparisons of Apple motherboards, hard disks, memory, etc that prove that their products are somehow "better" quality?

        I suspect not...
        Scrat
        • Well...

          I can show you a few Macs that have had NO problems in the last two
          years (still perform like right out of the box, no lag on anything) and a
          PC
          that I had for the same two years that crashed four times and cost me
          hundreds of bucks... I've had two Pocket PCs (that run MS product)
          and
          the software broke on both... Also, I had a SmartPhone running
          Windows
          CE that never worked right because of the Windows CE software...

          Please. Make me stop listing.

          Perhaps it's the software on the Netbooks that will be their downfall.
          However, better hardware will still be required for Apple to take it and
          run with it.
          upwardmultimedia