As 2009 draws to a close, it's interesting to read the predictions that tech pundits come out with. Here's one that I think it particularly interesting: "The days of the netbook are over."
According to Stuart Miles, founder and editor of technology blog Pocket Lint, the days of the netbook are also drawing to a close. There's little doubt that 2009 has been the year of the netbook. Those plucky little devices have been what's keeping the tech industry afloat during the recession, but survey after survey seemed to indicate that while buyers were being drawn to them because of the low price, overall people didn't remain all that happy with their choice once they got the netbook home and started using it.
I remember a time when people paid a premium for portability, and would spend considerable money of systems that could only be described as "luggable." As notebooks became more mainstream, people then paid a premium for power and large screens. Now, with the days of the netbook coming to a close, a small screen and long battery life may be what you pay extra for.
Another nail in the netbook coffin is that while they started out as small form-factor devices running Linux, with tiny screens and miniscule amounts of memory, they quickly evolved into small laptops. The line between netbooks and notebooks became fuzzy, as did user expectations of the device. Netbooks are basic systems and perhaps they managed to flourish because of frugal times during the economic downturn. Maybe they are the tech equivalent of slumming it and that we wouldn't stoop to being so "basic" otherwise.
We also expect a lot from out devices. Even from a device that hooks up to the web, we expect that it'll be able to handle countless browser windows simultaneously, expect it to be able to allow us to run out favorite Flash-based games, and expect that it'll be great at handling video. In short, while we like the netbook price, in out hearts we expect it to be a desktop replacement.
While I'm not going to go as far as to say that netbooks are dead (they're not), of that they are an EPIC FAIL (they're not) or that they are "teh suck" (again, they're not), I do think that we're going to see their popularity decline significant over the coming year.