Steve Jobs Was Right Again: Netbooks Are Officially Dead, iPad Killed Them

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Back in 2010, when netbooks were the fastest-growing segment of the P market and selling by the tens of millions, Steve Jobs defied conventional wisdom that Apple needs to make a netbook, famously lambasting netbooks as “cheap” and “not better than anything.”

Instead, Jobs introduced the iPad… and in the last three years, the iPad and similar tablets have completely killed netbook sales. In fact, in 2010, there were 32 million netbooks sold. Three years later? Only 10% as many will be sold, and by 2015, the segment will die entirely.

The data comes from research house IHS iSuppli, which shows just how precipitously the netbook is dying in the iPad age.

In 2010, as we already mentioned, netbooks sold 32 million units. In 2012? They shipped 14.13 million units: not great, but not bad. In 2013, though? Netbook shipments have sank 72 percent to just 3.97 million. And by 2015, iSuppli says no one will buy netbooks at all.

It’s not surprising. The reason people liked netbooks was they were easily portable, had great 10 hour battery life, cost under $500 and could perform simple computing tasks like web browsing and the Internet. Unfortunately, they were also slow, a little bulky and had tiny, unusable keyboards. In every respect, an iPad is better at what a netbook tries to do than a netbook is. Good riddance.

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  • jpaul

    Unless, of course, you buy an 11″ MacBook Air– the ultimate netbook!

  • Jonathan Ober

    Unless, of course, you buy an 11″ MacBook Air– the ultimate netbook!

    I never thought of the airs as netbooks. Sure they are the same/similar size but I felt that they were more horsepower and better equipped …also I think netbook was usually synonym for sub $500 which is not the air. Apple doesn’t sacrifice quality for the lower price, and for that I am thankful.

  • extra_medium

    They were doomed from the start… it quickly became apparent that no one really wanted one, they just wanted cheap laptops. 2 months after eee-pcs shipped like crazy, people started asking about netbooks with graphics cards and optical drives… keep adding features and pretty soon it’s not a netbook anymore lol.

    True netbooks are now the cheap chromebooks, since they really can’t do anything without the net. MacBook airs are not netbooks in any sense of the term.

  • Shane Bryson

    The Air, for all intensive purposes is a Netbook. Probably the most over priced Netbook on the market. I don’t think Apple will get rid of it, even after Netbooks die.

  • Shane Bryson

    They were doomed from the start… it quickly became apparent that no one really wanted one, they just wanted cheap laptops. 2 months after eee-pcs shipped like crazy, people started asking about netbooks with graphics cards and optical drives… keep adding features and pretty soon it’s not a netbook anymore lol.

    True netbooks are now the cheap chromebooks, since they really can’t do anything without the net. MacBook airs are not netbooks in any sense of the term.

    MacBook Air comes in 11 inches, has a small SSD drive, and no optical drive. That, by definition of the niche, is a Netbook.

  • MrsCleaver

    “Steve Jobs Was Right Again: Netbooks Are Officially Dead, iPad Killed Them”

    Like so many things, Steve was right about that a long time ago. For all his human faults (which every last one of us has in some way), Steve Jobs was a visionary. We’ll be paying him homage for a long time to come… or certainly should be.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his girlfriend and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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