Netbooks killing Windows faster than expected

IDC figures from the fourth quarter show a rush toward inexpensive Netbooks and away from Windows laptops. Take out sales of the Atom processor running many Netbooks and total shipments were down 20%, figures showed.

Call it the sum of Microsoft's fears.

IDC figures from the fourth quarter show a rush toward inexpensive Netbooks and away from Windows laptops.

Take out sales of the Atom processor running many Netbooks and total shipments were down 20%, figures showed.

Apple fans are crowing that Macs are resisting this downward pressure. One reason might be the MacBook Air, which offers the light weight of a Netbook, along with a full-size keyboard and large screen.

The success of the Netbook form factor -- no moving parts -- gives Linux a real opportunity to make headway on the desktop, or at least the coffeeshop desktop.

But the present success should really be just the start of an evolutionary process. Here are some ideas for the next generations of Netbooks:

  • Solar Power. How hard is it to put a small solar panel under the cover, along with the screen?
  • Peripherals. We already have incredibly tiny, dense hard drives that plug into a USB port. How about DVD drives on a similar scale? And what other devices can be added?
  • Ruggedization. The Netbook is rugged by design, but it can be more rugged. Police car rugged, for starters. We'll worry about military rugged next year.
  • Game slots. Netbooks lack the graphics and memory for high-end gaming. This sounds like a cartridge opportunity to me. Turning a Netbook into a real game machine could make cross-country flights zoom by. (Yes I know this is a Microsoft opportunity.)
  • Phone chargers. Once you have a solar-powered Netbook how about charging your iPhone while you're on the go? Or better yet your Android?

How would you improve Netbook designs for 2009 and 2010?