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They're both wrong - Nothing can revive netbook sales

Netbook sales are declining. In fact, if rumors from the supply chain are to be believed sales of netbooks are crashing through the floor. Can Windows 7 save netbooks? What about Ubuntu? My take on the situation - nothing can revive flagging netbook sales.

Netbook sales are declining. In fact, if rumors from the supply chain are to be believed sales of netbooks are crashing through the floor. Can Windows 7 save netbooks? What about Ubuntu? My take on the situation - nothing can revive flagging netbook sales.

Some of my ZDNet blogging colleagues believe that netbooks can be reborn from the ashes. Zack Whittaker thinks that Windows 7 will be the savior of the diminutive device.

Nope. Wrong.

On the other hand Chris Dawson thinks that the netbook life-raft will come in the form of Ubuntu.

Nope. Wrong again.

See, the reason that notebook sales are declining has nothing to do with what OS they run, and everything to do with the reason they became so popular in the first place.

The netbook was a device that gained popularity through adversity. When money was tight at the depth of the recession the humble netbook with its small screen, modest processor and petite amounts of RAM was a no-brainer choice for people looking for cheap and cheerful sub-notebook. People bought netbooks not so much because the device solved a particular problem, but because they were cheap.

Sure, people loved the excellent battery life and compact size of the netbook, but the same people were just as likely to complain about the lack of performance, and the cramped keyboard and screen. The netbook was a device that had compromise written all over it, but people were willing to overlook these compromises because of price.

But things have changed. Not only are people happier to spend more money, other dynamics have come into play. Notebooks are not only cheaper than they were a year ago now but devices at the budget end of the spectrum are also more powerful thanks to Moore's law. Then there are tablets. After languishing for over a decade as a niche/enterprise product in the hands of Microsoft and its OEMs, Apple proved not only that there was a market for tablets, but that there massive mainstream interest in the platform. Apple has shifted millions of tablets and paved the way for Windows and Android models to follow in 2011 (and, hopefully tablets based on Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 OS).

Tablets are where the interest will be during 2011. Netbooks aren't going to die any time soon, but they've waxed, hit their peak, and are now waning rapidly ... and I don't see anything changing that.So  Whittaker and Dawson can stop squabbling and both go buy a tablet ;)