Netbooks: Time to write the obit?

Netbooks: Time to write the obit?

Summary: IDC its 2010 PC industry predictions and became the second major research firm to note that mininotebooks, or netbooks, will hit the growth wall and plateau.

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TOPICS: Hardware, Mobility
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IDC on Monday rolled out its 2010 PC industry predictions and became the second major research firm to note that mininotebooks, or netbooks, will hit the growth wall and plateau.

Why? Portable PC prices are coming down and netbooks just don't have the differentiation to compete with more full featured computing devices. Netbook prices will have growth rates of low double digits, just below the portable PC average, said IDC in a statement.

Gartner mentioned the same theme for netbooks last week. In its 2010 forecast, Gartner said that mini-notebooks will fuel growth this year and then fade.

Add it up and it appears that the bandwagon calling for the death of netbooks is filling up. I can't say I disagree, but the switch in the consensus view is notable.

Among the notable calls from IDC's 2010 outlook:

  • Ultrathin notebooks will account for less than 5 percent of total portable PC shipments. IDC says the focus on ultrathin PCs will continue, but the value to the consumer isn't clear. Actually, my biggest hang-up in my notebook shopping has been the underpowered chips in ultrathins.
  • Don't expect average selling prices to continue to tank.
  • Portable PCs with WiMax embedded will surpass shipments with 3G chips embedded.
  • All in one desktop market share will double to be 10 percent of the desktop market.
  • 10 percent of enterprise desktop deployments will be virtual.
  • The launch of Apple's iPad won't spur demand for Windows-based Tablet PCs. In other words, Apple's iPad is a unique product that won't suddenly make those newfangled tablets a big category for the also rans.

Topics: Hardware, Mobility

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113 comments
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  • Netbooks to me are niche products

    Great for basic use, not so great for everything else. I just gave mine up and sold it off and bought a full featured laptop.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • Netbooks are cheap enough that you can have it in addition to a normal

      laptop. A laptop is much better for Starbucks, or
      the airplane. The longer battery life is also nice,
      though, longer battery life will move up to larger
      laptops as well.
      DonnieBoy
      • So where would you say a netbook is good for?

        I still can't find a real time and place that a netbook would be more convenient to me than a portable laptop.

        If I carry a netbook, it's going to have to go in a bag, so why not carry a mid-range slim laptop instead?

        If I am going to only be doing surfing, writing documents, working on spreadsheets or presentations, I don't need a high-end laptop, so a nice mid-range laptop will be just as portable and will offer me a whole host of things that a netbook won't.

        For me, I just don't see the value in a netbook.
        de-void-21165590650301806002836337787023
        • They're nice to do lite tasks with

          Or other work that doesn't need more screen space, but honestly, I wanted more power, so eventually I had to buy a laptop. There is so little that a 1.6 GHz *single core* processor can do.

          A mid-range laptop can't do you any wrong. Nice workload for not a lot of money.
          The one and only, Cylon Centurion
          • A good example is. . . .

            MY wife, who wants to be able to go on-line from the family room when she wants to buy something from QVC, or check her e-mail (or send some), look at some family photos, chat with her friends on Facebook, etc., . . . or maybe just to pay bills on.

            A Netbook does these things quite nicely without all the bulk of a larger laptop (and without all the excess heat, too).
            JLHenry
        • For some places the size of a Netbook is better: Plane, Starbucks,

          mass transit, etc. I also do not carry a full size
          laptop anymore, as my 11.6 inch Netbook with over 5
          hour battery life (actual) works great.
          DonnieBoy
          • That's where I see them

            People on the move who want more than a PDA but less than a full-size notebook.
            still not nice
        • Netbooks are good for travelling ....

          For my wife and I, two netbooks (weighing a ocmbined weight of ~ 7 pounds) are more useful while travelling than our one notebook weighing the same. We have then two keyboards and two screens and can do things without fighting over it. So blogging, and surfing, and emailing are more effective. I am even able to do processing of pictures with Picasa and Live Gallery and Photomatrix etc.
          VictoriaByTheSea
          • Yep! Just returned from Europe...

            Vacationed in Europe. Many B&B's have internet support, but no PC to access it, so you need your own. I used a Netbook. Brilliant! I read email, surfed the web, wrote my journal, Skyped. Netbook was fine. I simply didn't need anything bigger or faster!

            Yes! I do have a higher powered laptop for work, but the Netbook worked perfectly for what was needed on vacation.
            I am Gorby
          • Been dying to get one, but can't afford now! :(

            I wanted to get two netbooks, one for my 4 year old son and one for my 13 year old son.

            They're not only compact and quite nicely powered, but they're also light and because of that, more sturdy. No need for CD because I have an external firewire/usb drive if I need to get anything in them I'll just copy in a whole CD in bin/cue file format.

            They could say all they want but where else can you get a brand new (in box with manuals) computer that can surf the web and get you up to date with the world for so little... and best yet they're wireless; without the super cost. You can buy two for the price of one full sized laptop (WOW)!

            I'm getting at least one before the end of 2010 no matter what!

            :D
            Liliana Pubill
        • dedicated phone appliance

          I have a 7" netbook used just for the magicjack for free local / longdistance (after the $95 5 year prepayment). It's ideal for this as it can be on 24x7 with low heat and has a screen so one can reset the magicjack periodically when it stops working. It's a backup phone to our cells and is adequate for our uses.
          patrick-ewing@...
          • Another dedicated use

            I have a friend who has one he uses as a dedicated server tool for his HDTV.
            Yellowbird7
        • disposability

          those hapless folks who have a personal privacy, anonymity, or plagiarism problem may wish to use an el-cheapo netbook registered under a throwaway name, to do their blogging or writing.
          littlepitcher
        • Netbooks do more than you think

          Users can focus on what they WANT to do on any computer, including the netbook. Typing on the small pad took some training, but I have finally gotten it. What I don't like is the keypad mouse voluntarily bouncing all over the page, but that is not the fault of the netbook, notebooks do the same. I prefer the smaller form factor to the larger one you like to carry. I don't even carry a purse. This thing is small and light and there is nothing it can't do that I can find yet.
          Yellowbird7
      • People don't want Netbooks. A new survey has found netbooks are out...

        People don't want netbooks anymore. Why would they when for just a little more they get the full experience, in a slightly larger, yet 2 lb package around 11 to 12".
        A recent survey has proven that netbooks were a fad and are on their way out.

        No matter how you look at it, the "netbooks" which were mostly 8" or 10" models were and are too small to do anything of any satisfaction.

        Although they still are handy for PC techs to carry around when troubleshooting.
        The slates may replace those and will become huge for things like healthcare and bedside handheld units, which gives the care provider a digital version of what used to be a paper chart. These are of course authenticated to the Windows network. There are thousands of uses in various businesses and organizations, so i think they report is wrong in the popularity of slate tablets. But they would have become very popular in business with or without the ipad, so that's a non factor.
        xuniL_z
        • Is anybody forcing you to buy one?

          Does your work require you to have one?

          If not, then go whine somewhere else and stop speaking for everybody else.
          still not nice
          • pssst....

            it was meant in a sarcastic way.
            You have to know the OP in which it was a reply and his posts. Seek him out and you'll find dozens of posts stating "what people want", "what people don't want" et cetera.
            He's an ABM spammer.

            Then you can tell him the same thing. mmmkay?
            xuniL_z
      • People don't want Netbooks. They want the more powerful mini laptops..

        which are replacing all netbook sized machines at not much more of a cost.

        People just don't want the cheap and poorly made little Acers.

        The report and by extention blogger are wrong about the slates. They will be Huge in hospitals for digital charting and as handheld devices for bedside computing. They'll be either authenticated to the network all the time, or as needed. Windows versions of the HP slates for example will sell in huge numbers.

        And of course Windows will continue to be the dominant OS, no question, hands down and their global marketshare will remain in the 90% range.
        xuniL_z
        • Nope, just the truth and my right to say it. Other people don't hesitate...

          to tell us how great Linux is in all of their posts, perhaps you can hunt one of those people down and ask them if they are giving linux free advertising? They are everywhere on zdnet. They pitch linux or OS X all day and find time to tell us how Windows sucks.
          I don't see anyone questioning their motives?
          Of course this site is full of double standards, including many of the bloggers.

          Besides, the android slate has not been officially announced by HP, so right now Windows is the only OS you can get.

          Android = bye bye Ubuntoo.
          xuniL_z
    • That was the point...

      I don't know what possessed people to run out and buy these things with the idea that they were going to replace their laptop in the first place. Screen size alone should have been enough to deter people.

      The things are great for non techies and techies that know what to use them for. Again contrary to popular belief the average joe just browses the internet and checks email. Thats where this thing comes in for doing so around the house and on the go. Honestly the OEM's screwed it up for themselves by not properly marketing. Like it or not putting XP on them was their doom. It further led the consumer to further tie them to their usual idea of a full laptop.
      storm14k