The War Against Netbooks Continues?

By  |  Monday, July 6, 2009 at 7:28 am

No NetbooksAccording to DigiTimes–a Taiwanese publication that’s always interesting, if not always completely reliable–Samsung is planning to release a netbook with an 11.6-inch screen and an Intel Atom CPU. Sounds cool–it’s a popular form factor with a roomier-than-usual display. But DigiTimes also says that Intel has responded by canceling Samsung’s deal for discount pricing on Atom chips, and similarly punished Lenovo when it introduced a 12.1-inch netbook. Samsung may also run into trouble with Microsoft, whose Windows 7 licensing agreements reportedly discourage netbooks with screens that are larger than 10.1 inches.

Netbooks make Intel and Microsoft nervous, since their low prices and high popularity threaten the market for costlier laptops that preserve a more generous profit margin for processors and operating systems. If I worked for either company, I’d be nervous, too. But trying to stifle netbook growth by making it tough for PC manufacturers to release appealing new models puts the companies on a collision course with consumers.

It’s a lousy development for anyone who’d like to buy a netbook with a sizable screen. I think it’s also self-defeating for the companies playing the pricing games, since the history of the PC business shows that consumers nearly always get what they want, even when pricing pressure makes it miserable for companies that make computers, components, and software.

Bottom line: If people want big-screen netbooks–and many surely do–they’re going to happen. I’d love to see the industry admit that and embrace it. Wouldn’t it be a more efficient way to do business than trying to prevent the inevitable?

 
12 Comments


Read more: , , , ,

6 Comments For This Post

  1. Dwight Silverman Says:

    I’m not so sure consumers like netbooks.

    http://blogs.chron.com/techblog/archives/2009/06/many_netbook_buyers_arent_happy_1.html

    and

    http://blogs.chron.com/techblog/archives/2009/05/the_rise_and_fall_of_netbooks.html

    I think they like the IDEA of netbooks, but not necessarily the ugly reality of how poorly they perform.

  2. Martin Focazio Says:

    Well, if this is the case, it’s been pretty clear from my own use of Ubuntu 9.04 on a small form netbook that it’s ALMOST ready for general market use and MSFT won’t really matter. All they need to do (and it’s a big ask) is get video working better – flash in particular – under Linux. Currently, flash video (like that on Hulu.com) utterly slams the processor on a Linux based device, vs. a Windows or Mac device, due to some pretty arcane but important deep tech in Flash video rendering methods vs. Linux video rendering. That’s fixable and could really shake things up.

  3. Harry McCracken Says:

    Dwight–I’m sure there are consumers who buy netbooks and end up disgruntled–although most of the people I run into who have them seem pleased–but I blame consumer unhappiness in part on the war against netbooks, too. A decent netbook with 2GB of RAM is far more pleasing than one with 1GB, but Microsoft uses Windows licenses as a weapon to discourage manufacturers from selling netbooks with an adequate amount of memory.

    –Harry

  4. adorno Says:

    Your argument makes no sense at all.

    Consumers may want it, but if Intel and MS stand firm and do not sell less expensive chips and OS to netbook manufacturers, all they’ll be able to produce are oversized, underpowered systems using older or competing tech (amd chips and linux)

  5. JDoors Says:

    Yeah, I don’t get your annoyance with MS not supporting low-brow computers to the extent that you would like. When MS sold OS’s with platforms that didn’t work well (“Certified!”) everyone beat them over the head for it. Now they say, “Uh, no thanks,” and you beat them over the head for it.

  6. Harry McCracken Says:

    JDoors,

    Microsoft’s policies are helping to make netbooks “low-brow,” since they discourage manufacturers from improving the systems with features that would make them better, such as more memory. I’d like to see Intel and Microsoft help manufacturers make better netbooks, rather than institute policies that stand in their way.

    –Harry

6 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. Web Media Daily – July 6, 2009 | Reinventing Yourself... Says:

    [...] The War Against Netbooks Continues?…   Technologizer             Where’s a crowdsource uproar when you need one? [...]

  2. The war against netbooks? | Jason Burns' Blog Says:

    [...] Technologizer has an interesting post today about The War Against Netbooks. In reading it I have a few points to make, but probably not the points you might [...]

  3. Sony Finally Does a Netbook | Technologizer Says:

    [...] exception: HP’s upcoming metal-encased, feature-rich Mini 5101.) The industry still has a weird, uneasy relationship with the form factor, but now that everyone’s making ‘em, I hope we’ll see a new generation of models [...]

  4. Eleven Questions About Google’s Chrome OS | Technologizer Says:

    [...] it tough for Microsoft to realize the profit margin it’s accustomed to getting, which is causing hassles for PC makers and consumers. Google isn’t saying how much it plans to charge for Chrome OS, but if Android is any [...]

  5. Cameras for Less » The War Against Netbooks Continues? Says:

    [...] The War Against Netbooks Continues? According to DigiTimes–a Taiwanese publication that’s always interesting, if not always completely reliable–Samsung is planning to release a netbook with an 11.6-inch screen and an Intel Atom CPU. Sounds cool–it’s a popular form factor with a roomier-than-usual display. But DigiTimes also says that Intel has responded by canceling Samsung’s deal for discount pricing on Atom …more »Tags:  according, blog, canceling, completely, continues, cool, cpu, digitimes, intel, netbooks, samsung, technologizer, war Categories: Cameras for Less Comments are closed. Fast Shipping. Canon BP-422 Brand New Equivalent 3000mAh Li-ion Battery, RSS feed [...]

  6. Please Sir, May I Have More Memory? | Technologizer Says:

    [...] they don’t really want them. But some of the limitations of netbooks are manufactured: Both Intel and Microsoft impose restrictions on PC manufacturers that ensure that netbooks are less appealing [...]