By Harry McCracken | Saturday, August 8, 2009 at 11:23 pm
I swear I’m not a conspiracy theorist. But if I were, I’d be suspicious about the circumstances surrounding the death of Dell’s Mini 12 netbook, which the company is discontinuing. Along with Lenovo’s IdeaPad S12, it was one of the few netbooks on the market with a 12-inch screen, so its absence will be felt.
The company says that “Larger notebooks require a little more horsepower to be really useful,” but like Mike Arrington, I’m left flummoxed by that–there’s no reason why some folks might not be happy with a low-cost, basic-specs laptop that happened to have a larger screen than most netbooks. And there’s no technical reason not to build one, which is presumably why Dell built the Mini 12 in the first place.
The system packed an Intel CPU and ran Windows XP (or Ubuntu), but both Intel and Microsoft have decidedly conflicted feelings about netbooks–especially ones with 12-inch screens. And now Dell’s lost interest in large-screen netbooks, too. Perhaps the Mini 12 just didn’t sell particularly well–although Dell didn’t say it wasn’t popular, just that it was a bad idea. That’s sort of the party line of the whole industry.
In the end, there are really no such thing as netbooks–there are just notebooks in various sizes with different specs at different price points. Maybe Dell will be able to configure a 12-inch notebook with better specs than the Mini 12 and bring it in at a price point close to the Mini (which started at $429). If not, it’s telling consumers who want a fairly roomy screen but who don’t need a lot of processing power that they can’t get both in one machine. Anymore.