The netbook effect

An interesting article on wired about netbooks: what started as a cheap computer for kids in developing countries, suddenly occupies 7% of the world’s entire laptop market - after just 1 year.

Some quotes:

Netbooks violate all the laws of the computer hardware business. Traditionally, development trickles down from the high end to the mass market. PC makers target early adopters with new, ultrapowerful features. Years later, those innovations spread to lower-end models.

But Jepsen’s design trickled up. In the process of creating a laptop to satisfy the needs of poor people, she revealed something about traditional PC users. They didn’t want more out of a laptop—they wanted less.

In the US, we regard branding and marketing—convincing people what to buy—as core business functions. What Asustek proved is that the companies with real leverage are the ones that actually > make > desirable products…

It’s a nice development. I wouldn’t mind having one, but it would be like a 2nd device after a full-featured laptop for me.

Here’s an interesting article from a developer about why he likes netbooks and about Steve Job’s ideas on netbooks.

Poor Palm… Remember the Foleo? They were relentlessly ridiculed and dismissed for that one… but it was basically a netbook. It must have hurt that they got slammed and then a short time later Asus is getting great publicity.

Palm needed to pull off something really good, and people just didn’t imagine anyone wanting this. Price was too high, and it has no style.

It was also just a little too early. It was still geek behavior to be on the internet on the go–now it’s pretty common.

I just ordered a Dell Mini 9 for $200 that with another $100 in upgrades will be fully compatible with OSX.

Finally, an affordable Macbook Mini NOT made by Apple. :laughing:

The question is: how can netbooks evolve from here? At the moment they are essentially scaled down PC-generic laptops. But they have changed the user behavior so drastically, that with all being “in the cloud”, there has to be some way to improve user interaction.

E-book reader controls? Video-phone controls? RSS-reader controls? Tablet? What else? Not to forget aesthetics… or do we think that the general public will ignore a radical upgrade and stick with “same old but cheap”?

Do you agree that people want less from laptops? I don’t. When you think about it - netbooks only cut back on screen, keyboard and perfomance. Oh, and cost. They still have a webcam, memory card readers, USB ports, monitor outputs… most of the things many 15’ laptops have, and some even lack. My conclusion - people still purchase on amount of features for the money. Just that mobility outweighs comfort, as a result of ability of always being connected. Should be no surprise by now that the social features is the most important driver of web development. Why don’t more hardware companies adapt to it?

Getting a new computer, or even a new phone used to be a big decision. Now computers are disposable, almost down to an impulse purchase. Thoughts?