Do you own a netbook? You know, one of those tiny laptop computers that are about the size of a hardcover book, cost somewhere in the realm of $250 – $500, and run on Windows Vista, XP, or (if you were a really early adopter) Xandros? If you made the jump directly from your laptop to your tablet, you’re not missing much: Neither Asus nor Acer, two of the biggest netbook suppliers, will be manufacturing the little guys through 2013. From this angle, it looks like the ‘small convenient computer’ market belongs to tablets.
Netbooks were made available around 2008 and enjoyed modest popularity as lightweight, convenient machines that you could put in your bag (though a little force was sometimes necessary to get it in there). The netbooks on the market today are far more powerful than the earliest models that ran on 500 megs of RAM and offered four gigs of storage, but ultimately, netbooks aren’t really designed to take on bigger tasks than web surfing and lightweight word processing– stuff that people typically do on their tablets these days.
In fact, three years ago, Morgan Stanely analyst Katy Huberty predicted that the iPad would swallow tablets, and it looks like she was right.
Interestingly, when netbooks became widely available, Steve Jobs said that Apple had no interest in producing $500 ‘piece of junk’ computers. Now the iPad dominates the tablet market and is arguably the main reason why netbooks are fading into the night. Should the death of netbooks conclude with a punchline? A moral? Either way, your little Asus EEE is now a relic, so cherish it.