Screw licensing OS X - Give me an iPhone-based netbook

Screw licensing OS X - Give me an iPhone-based netbook

Summary: Jason Perlow wrote a great piece tonight on why Apple should license OS X to netbook builders like Asus, Dell, and HP. This certainly hasn't been a strategy that has gone well for Apple, nor is it anything they're likely to do any time soon.

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Jason Perlow wrote a great piece tonight on why Apple should license OS X to netbook builders like Asus, Dell, and HP. This certainly hasn't been a strategy that has gone well for Apple, nor is it anything they're likely to do any time soon. However, it's the last thing they need to do, and, as much as the "branding" buzzword irks me, I really think it would dilute the Apple brand (there, I said it...brand, brand, brand). That is, after all, what sells Apples (that, and a pretty great OS on some nifty hardware).

I actually got to thinking about this earlier today, completely independent of Perlow's article, when I noticed my 13-year old absorbed in a game on his iPod Touch. It wasn't exactly Grand Theft Auto in terms of processor demands, but the graphics, driven by the internal accelerometer and touch commands (downloaded for free from the App Store) were pretty intense. Solid 3D, very smooth, and crystal clear. Obviously, Apple has figured out how to make a stripped down version of OS X run quite nicely on limited hardware.

Just as Apple provides users with premium laptops (at a premium price), premium MP3 players (at a premium price), and premium smartphones (at a premium price), they could own the premium netbook market by basing their model on their iPod Touch. Make it 10" convertible tablet with the same multitouch interface found on the Touch, dispense with a touchpad since the touchscreen would give you everything you need, and you'd have a very thin, light, snappy netbook in a new wide form-factor for which customers would gladly pay $600-$700.

Make it $500 at the educational level and dump the white 13" MacBooks they're still making for schools and they could be huge in education again. Build an ecosystem of developers through their existing App Store infrastructure and Classmate PC (and anyone else targeting educational markets) would be hard-pressed to compete.

Although they would certainly cannibalize some of their low-end MacBook sales, they'd keep people in the Apple family. The hardware (in mini form with the Touch) and software (again on the Touch and iPhone) already exist in-house. Apple doesn't need to license anything. They just need to leverage what they already do very well.

Of course, since that probably won't ever happen, I expect I'll still be on target to buy a whole bunch of convertible Classmates. I'll leave Apple to keep selling $1500 laptops in a recession. No stimulus package could get me to give them a second glance with their current lineup.

Topics: Software, Apple, Hardware, iPhone, Mobility, Operating Systems

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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27 comments
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  • How about ...

    ... Windows 7 touch netbook.
    jacksonjohn
    • Another Apple vs. M$ lawsuit?

      If M$ made the thing "multi-touch", then I'm sure Apple would respond by suing. Interestingly, the last time Apple and M$ buried the hatchet over pending litigation - it was in the Newton's head. So it would be Apple's time to kill a M$ product - instead of the other way around.
      Roger Ramjet
      • Apple can't sue Microsoft for Multitouch netbook

        as its patent doesn't apply to netbook featuring multitouch or even PC featuring it.
        Otherwise they would be already suing HP for the HP touch smart.
        timiteh
      • Yup, ain't patents great for competition?

        Apple, having successfully patented multi-touch AND single-touch (read the patent, it covers using [b]one[/b] or more fingers), should kill [b]all[/b] touch products. Then only Apple would be able to sell touch products. Wouldn't that be a great win for consumers! Yay us!
        NonZealot
        • Read the patent

          The patent is for a specific type of device and
          heuristics for specific input methods. Despite
          your repeated anti-Apple, anti-patent rights
          rhetoric, this is NOT a sweeping claim to every
          input where someone touches a screen. The
          first sentence in the patent introduces the
          limited scope of the filing: <i>"A computer-
          implemented method for use in conjunction
          with a computing device with a touch screen
          display comprises: detecting one or more finger
          contacts with the touch screen display,
          <b>applying one or more heuristics to the one
          or more finger contacts to determine a
          command for the device, and processing the
          command."</b></i> and so on.

          In other words, they have applied for a patent
          for a <i>specific implementation</i> of touch
          screen technology. Since you normally request
          links, and failed to include one yourself, I am
          putting the link to the application at the end of
          this posting.

          http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?
          Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetaht
          ml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-
          bool.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PTXT&
          s1=multi-touch&s2=multitouch&OS=multi-
          touch+AND+multitouch&RS=multi-
          touch+AND+multitouch
          use_what_works_4_U
          • THREE things

            a. URL Shortener so you don't look like a
            newbie: http://is.gd/kyWX is your URL above
            shortened and working for all to use.

            b. re-read the patent with regards to laptops.
            they are mentioned in there and this would
            apply to them as well. So unless you're a
            patent versed attorney at a company such as
            Pillsbury Law, why would anyone want to take
            anything you've written with more than a grain
            of salt? They wouldn't.

            c. oh and third one to consider, Apple's legal
            department is already working on every attempt
            to circumvent this and eventually anyone doing
            any kind of multi-touch work will have to
            license from apple because they were smart
            enough to patent it first. If I were
            shareholders of sprint and others I'd be
            demanding to know why they didn't.

            Michael Murdock, CEO
            ceo8
  • RE: Screw licensing OS X - Give me an iPhone-based netbook

    Apple say that they don't want to release netbooks for now,and probably forever, and don't know how to build $500 PC which are not crap. After all they are not really targeting the average joe aiming for an affordable solution.
    So i think that the best you can do is to find the most tailored Linux distro for your needs and a high quality netbook(forget Acer and check the Asus ones) and forget about Apple netbooks.
    Because this will probably never happen.
    timiteh
    • Why explore low end items...

      ...when they are making money hand over fist on their overly expensive items? Sure, they could sell millions of the low end items, but then their elitist advertising angle would have to change, which would cost them million$.
      cadaver.vitae
      • Elitism? No. Different strategy? Yes.

        Apple's primary focus is in creating quality products.

        While other PC makers are all diving to the bottom of the barrel to offer the cheapest Windows PCs at unsustainable prices, Apple is selling a product with unique value that isn?t available elsewhere.

        The company is also leveraging its strong retail presence of 251 stores worldwide, which offer training and support that can?t be found at big box retailers, attracting and retaining many Mac buyers to its ecosystem instead of leaving them to find a bargain among cheap PCs. (Microsoft is attempting new stores in the same style.)

        Apple #1 in Customer Satisfaction (American Customer Satisfaction Index)
        http://www.theacsi.org/images/stories/images/news/0808q2.pdf

        iPhone #1 in Customer Satisfaction
        http://www.jdpower.com/corporate/news/releases/pressrelease.aspx?id=2008240



        Rather than losing money to chase a fraction of the netbook market share, Apple is creating its own market for handheld WiFi mobile devices that is not only outpacing the entire netbook market in units sold but also in profitability. Because the iPhone and iPod touch are designed to sync with a computer rather than replace one like a netbook, Apple?s desktop and notebook sales are not being cannibalized by its mobile sales.

        iPhone sales growth in the fourth quarter '08 exploded by 88% over the year ago quarter. Apple sold 13.6 million iPhones in the last year, well above the 11.3 million netbooks sold in 2008 by all vendors combined.

        Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray estimates an installed base of roughly 60 million iPhones by the end of 2009. Netbook sales expected to be sold in 2009 only total 21.5 million. In addition, 23.4 million iPod touch users are expected in 2009.

        This strategy combined with the 24+ billion Apple has in the bank should help it in ridding the bad economy.
        fox.kenji
  • Apple already sells a netbook

    Apple has made it clear that the iPhone IS their netbookd and Apple fanatics have cheered this announcement. What I find fascinating is that these same fanatics think MS is evil for their 3 apps at a time Starter Edition while Apple is great for their 1 app at a time OS X. Then again, logic isn't a strong point of these people or they wouldn't be Apple fanatics. :)
    NonZealot
    • IPhone looks worse by the day...

      The more multitasking I do on my G1 the more I wonder how IPhone users even use their phone. Then I realize what all the comparions centered around....multi-touch and sex appeal. Why anyone would want to see this limited OS on a netbook I don't know.

      And isn't the Macbook Air sorta a netbook?
      storm14k
      • Tell me about it

        [i]Why anyone would want to see this limited OS on a netbook I don't know.[/i]

        Lack of multi-tasking is a total showstopper for me. And yes, this includes Windows Starter Edition which is a total non-"Starter" for me.

        [i]And isn't the Macbook Air sorta a netbook?[/i]

        IMO MBA is too big and too expensive to be a true netbook. That being said, I don't think there is a true definition for "netbook" so there is no right or wrong answer here.
        NonZealot
        • That showstopper is non-existed

          [i]Lack of multi-tasking is a total showstopper for me. And yes, this includes Windows Starter Edition which is a total non-"Starter" for me.[/i]

          the Multi-tasking limitation in iPhone is artificially imposed, much like windows starter edition, in order to save batteries juice. In face, both the phone and email are separated apps running simultaneously on the iphone. For adventurous soul, you can jailbreak your phone and run backgrounder app to run apps in the background.

          I think the problem is Apple hasn't been innovated much since iPhone release. (App Store to be exact, if you count it as innovative) The netbook seems to be a perfect storm in this economic downturn and Apple seems to have no idea how to make a cheap computer. (or how to *NOT* overcharge their already cheap produced computer, if you know what I mean)
          Samic
          • Its still a showstopper.

            It doesn't make a difference whether its artificially imposed. It means there are things you can't do with the phone and people aren't going to write many apps that rely on a jailbroken phone. People that do on the Android get lambasted in the feed back section.

            As for the App Store being innovative its not. Its a software repo which has been done already.

            Apple doesn't want to make a cheap computer. Whether they are worth the price or not they know that the price point adds some eliteness to their product and people love to feel elite.
            storm14k
    • False. Apple does not sell a netbook.

      Care to point out who from Apple said the iPhone is Apple's netbook?

      Apple has made it clear, as per Steve Jobs, that they are monitoring the netbook market for the time being as they feel it is still too new. Steve also said that Apple has some interesting ideas as to what they could do. I can give you the video where S.J. says this.

      Certain MS fanatics love to fabricate statements, such as the ones NonZealot makes, make false assertions based on those very fabrications and then trash Apple for it. Their irrational desperation to bash anything Apple is very self evident. Logic isn't a strong point of these people or they wouldn't be MS fanatics. :)
      fox.kenji
      • 640k of RAM is enough for anybody.

        Same kinda thing, eh?
        rtk
      • Luckily for me, we have Apple fans who said Apple does

        [i]Certain MS fanatics love to fabricate statements[/i]

        Why don't you call theoxygenthief an "MS fanatic" and see what his response is?

        Oh, and just to [b]really[/b] destroy your post, here is Jobs saying that the iPhone is Apple's netbook:
        http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9117785

        [i]At the same time, it was clear that Jobs considers Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch as courting netbook dollars. "One of our entrants into that category, if you will, is the iPhone for browsing the Internet and doing e-mail and all the other things that a netbook lets you do," he said. "Being connected via the cellular net wherever you are, an iPhone is a pretty good solution for that, and it fits in your pocket."[/i]

        So, back to your post:
        [i]Logic isn't a strong point of these people or they wouldn't be MS fanatics.[/i]

        It would seem that fact checking isn't a strong point of Apple fanatics. :)
        NonZealot
        • alternative to the netbook market

          Tsk tsk. Steve Jobs is saying if you want to make comparissons, the iPhone would be the equivalent of a netbook in the context of the purpose of the device(s). But the strategy is much different. Apple is creating its own market for handheld WiFi mobile devices as already explained here:

          http://talkback.zdnet.com/5208-12355-0.html?forumID=1&threadID=61135&messageID=1127941


          It would seem that fact comprehension isn't a strong point of MS fanatics. :)
          fox.kenji
          • Wow, linking to your own post for proof!

            Sorry but I'll believe Steve Jobs over you. Steve Jobs said the iPhone is Apple's netbook. You lose. :)
            NonZealot
          • Wow, playing semantics!

            Sorry but that doesn't contradict anything. You can keep playing semantics on your own.

            While everyone else is falling over themselves to see who sells more cheap netbooks in an unsustainable money-losing race, at this time Apple is choosing to take another route with the iPhone and Touch and make boatloads of money instead.

            You can choose to keep throwing fits, shake your angry fist into the air and be bitter as to why Apple is not building a shrunken 11-inch mini laptop just like everyone else, or you can choose to understand Apple's strategy. Up to you. :)
            fox.kenji