Will Apple join the Netbook fight?

Will Apple join the Netbook fight?

Summary: News today from CultofMac (via MacRumors) noted that the relative popularity of recently introduced Netbooks from Asus, Acer and Dell may force Apple's hand to compete in the sub-$1000 price range.According to the report, Amazon's most popular laptops list is now dominated by the $400-$600 devices, with Apple's $1299 MacBook being the lone exception in the top 10.

SHARE:
10

Asus Eee PC 1000News today from CultofMac (via MacRumors) noted that the relative popularity of recently introduced Netbooks from Asus, Acer and Dell may force Apple's hand to compete in the sub-$1000 price range.

According to the report, Amazon's most popular laptops list is now dominated by the $400-$600 devices, with Apple's $1299 MacBook being the lone exception in the top 10. Problem is, that's more than double in price for Apple's lowest-end laptop.

Since Netbooks are tiny, lightweight and cheap -- we're talking 9- and 10-inch screens for as low as $329 -- analysts are saying that worsening economic conditions are only helping their popularity, and therefore, "it has been suggested that Apple may drop the price of the upcoming MacBooks to try to counter this trend."

(Deeper analysis by colleague Sam Diaz: Will netbook growth hurt Macbook sales?)

It certainly doesn't help that Intel is pushing the form factor with the recent release of the low-powered Atom processor, which Apple has been rumored to eventually adopt in an upcoming device.

Sure, we've got the Macbook Air. But what about a Macbook Helium?

Tell me, readers: Do you think Apple will introduce a lighter, smaller, cheaper Macbook? And would you buy it? Tell us in TalkBack.

UPDATE: And, what's more, Asus has just introduced 3.75G connectivity to its Eee PC notebooks.

[poll id=4]

Topics: Laptops, Apple, Hardware, Mobility

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

10 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Maybe - in some fashion

    Historically, Apple doesn't compete head on with something
    like this. They tend to leapfrog to something different and
    better. The Iphone is a good example. People were
    expecting just a phone that would compete with all of the
    other phones on the market. What did Apple do? They
    totally leapfrogged "just a phone" to something really special
    - the Iphone. If Apple does want to get into the sub $1000
    market, I'd bet that it's not going to be anything like what's
    on the market now.
    Prime Detailer
    • The other example is what?

      The iPod?

      Apple made a music player with a nice interface, and they did the same with a phone. Historically... they didn't do that anywhere else.

      Apple is far from having a monopoly on creativity and innovation, if they make an netbook they're just stealing from the Eee PC.

      Given how long Apple has been around they could have done far more, but with closed architecture's they've only limited innovation.
      T1Oracle
      • A few examples

        The Mac operating system (First user friendly OS)
        Newton (ahead of its time)
        Imac
        Itunes software
        Mac Air
        Excellence in industrial design in all their products
        Apple stores

        "Given how long Apple has been around they could have
        done far more, but with closed architecture's they've only
        limited innovation." - This is just dumb.
        Prime Detailer
      • Apple's innovation

        @ T1Oracle, you are wrong. Here is why:

        [b]1)[/b] Speaking strictly of interface designs and
        GUIs, Apple has the best documented and best thought-
        out interface strategies out of any other software
        maker:

        High Performance
        Ease of Use
        Attractive Appearance
        Reliability
        Adaptability
        Interoperability
        Mobility

        http://developer.apple.com/documentation/UserExperienc
        e/Conceptual/AppleHIGuidelines/XHIGCharGreatSoftware/c
        hapter_4_section_1.html#//apple_ref/doc/uid/TP40002720
        -TPXREF101

        [b]2)[/b] No one claims Apple has a monopoly on
        creativity and innovation. In fact, it is a good thing
        for Apple to have competition. "stealing it from the
        EEE PC" ?? The EEE PC is an innovation in form factor.
        Your statement is just absurd.

        [b]3)[/b] Closed architecture and limited innovation?
        Apple? buddy, you got your companies mixed up. You
        just described Microsoft and their severe lack of any
        creativity. Apple is the most innovative companies on
        the planet.

        [i]Apple wins World's Most Innovative company for the
        3rd time in a row:[/i]

        http://images.businessweek.com/ss/07/05/0503_innovativ
        e_co/index_01.htm?chan=innovation_special+report+--
        +2007+most+innovative+companies_2007+most+innovative+c
        ompanies?sr=hotnews.rss


        [b]4)[/b] And guess what? they leverage a huge portion
        of their resources from open source technologies:

        http://www.apple.com/opensource/
        http://developer.apple.com/opensource/index.html

        Microsoft will never even come close in innovation and
        MS is fundamentally opposed to open source.
        fox.kenji
  • RE: Will Apple join the Netbook fight?

    Depends on the economy, if it gets much worse and people stop paying the premium on Apple products, Apple would be forced to join the market. But as long as Apple has enough customers, I don't think they would really care since there isn't much profit margin with netbooks anyway.
    nothingness
    • You're Probably Right, Unfortunately

      The financial analyst predictions are that Apple will
      continue to do well, even in the face of the crumbling
      economy. So, where's the incentive for a cheap netbook?

      I say "unfortunately" because I really really really ( x a
      million more reallys) want a small footprint Mac notebook
      or netbook or whatever. I'm getting by just barely with my
      trusty old 12" Powerbook, the last generation of that line
      up.

      I don't mind paying a premium for a 9" - 12" screen form
      factor, as long as it isn't ridiculous. In other words, if it's
      slightly cheaper than a Macbook. Flash Storage would be
      nice but isn't a necessity, especially if it keeps the price
      low. The ability to plug in my Cinema display is a must. A
      card slot would be nice, but the lack of one isn't a deal
      breaker.
      Marcos El Malo
  • Apple already went one better

    the iPhone is a netbook, yet even "cheaper" and more handy with
    a HSPDA modem built in.

    You wouldn't use a netbook as a production tool nor the iPhone,
    both are general use only. I would be so bold to suggest the
    iPhone is also faster, not due to spec but user interface. I can do
    a wiki search in one click with instant wake from sleep, we are
    talking parts of a second here. I doubt any netbook is that fast and
    more so, it wouldn't be in sleep and in your pocket. It would off
    and in your bag.
    cy_starkman
    • What does a Netbook do...

      that the iPhone or even the iPod Touch do not do
      already? As far a I have seen and heard on the
      Internet, netbooks are really nothing more than an
      overgrown iTouch with a keyboard. None of them
      are even comparable to an iPhone, because they
      don't make phone calls.

      Most people I know would NOT want one of these
      netbooks as their only computer any more than an
      iPhone as their only computing device. For reading
      email and getting stock quotes, the iPhone is
      certainly the way to go. Anyone who wants to rip a
      CD or DVD for their iPod could not use a netbook,
      but would still need a full fledged notebook or
      desktop with a CD/DVD reader and enough
      processing power to do that in a reasonable
      amount of time.

      Anybody that already has a cheap cellphone for
      only making phone calls, might buy a netbook
      instead of an iPhone or iPod touch to get web
      related information, such as receiving and sending
      email.
      arminw
  • It's certainly doable...

    We posted an article on PlanetX64.com showing how to load OS X
    on an MSI Wind as an academic exercise. Got picked up by
    Slashdot, Make and LifeHacker. Over 55,000 reads in 12 hours.
    There's a ton of interest in this type of product (Mac Netbook).

    Article is here: http://www.planetx64.com/index.php?
    option=com_content&task=view&id=1419&Itemid=14
    etrigan63
    • Economic sense

      Sure, from a technical stand it is doable. The iPhone
      runs OS X as well. The key question actually is if
      makes economic sense.

      Does it make economic sense for Apple to enter and
      compete in this market?

      Historically, sub-notebooks have served their
      manufacturers as tools to increase their market share
      but do little to nothing to make monkey. Apple doesn't
      play that game and if the trends stay that way it's
      likely that Apple will not jump in.
      fox.kenji