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.
Netbooks are still shipping, but the market has spoken
While we can debate how much the iPad cannibalizes Apple’s MacBook sales, there’s no doubt that the device is continuing to kill of the entire netbook industry. While iPad sales are literally selling as fast as Apple can make them, netbook sales continue to plummet – with the first quarter of this year representing a sixth consecutive quarter in which shipments of the small, inexpensive, and often low quality PC notebooks have declined sharply.
In late 2010, after years of abstaining from entering the netbook market, Apple finally succeeded in transforming the MacBook Air from a disappointing promise of laptops to come into a machine that revolutionized ultraportables the same way the iPhone revolutionized smartphones and the iPad revolutionzed tablets. Not only was the MacBook Air as thin as a samurai sword and about as small as a 12-inch netbook, it had the performance of a beefier laptop thanks to the inclusion of a proper CPU, dedicated GPU and ubiquitous flash storage… all at a sub-$1000 price point.
Overnight, the MacBook Air finished what the iPad had started and almost completely killed off netbook demand once and for all. Now all of the gadget makers who had previously been counting on netbook sales to boost their bottom lines are trying to catch up with Apple. But as usual, they’re about a year late.
What does this mean for CES 2012? Expect to see ultrabooks, ultrabooks and more ultrabooks.
Photo by Greg Lilly Photos - http://flic.kr/p/a6881v
Acer is prognosticating again – hide the babies and keep your tin-foil hats firmly in place. The netbook maker’s chairman now expects Apple’s Mac sales will run out of steam by 2014, deflated by Intel’s ultrabook. This after diagnosing overwhelming tablet demand as a “fever” and the iPad slipping in popularity. Kreskin need not be worried — and neither should Apple.
Netbooks were the dodo birds of technology: ill-equipped to compete and eventually done in by a consumer form of natural selection — the iPad. After just about a week on the shelf, the Kindle Fire is being labeled the “netbook of the tablet market.” Analysts looking beyond the $199 price believe the Amazon tablet just can’t compete with the market-leading Apple device. Are Kindle Fire purchasers headed for a serious case of buyers remorse?
Despite being caught in Apple’s vise-like iPad and MacBook Air grip, Acer continues on with the belief there must be a market somewhere remaining for netbooks – maybe China. Monday, the head of the company’s China operations said “emerging markets” could boost vanishing profits. On Monday, the head of the company’s China operations said “emerging markets” could boost vanishing profits. In other words, everyone else may think netbooks suck, but they’re still good enough for those third-world citizens who don’t know any better.
What’s this? Looks like a unibody MacBook Air, right? Don’t bet a kidney on it: Shenzhen’s Evil Confederacy of Mad Scientist Cloners have managed to almost perfectly rip off the feel of Apple’s bestselling MacBook Air, including unibody enclosure, for under half the price of Apple’s ultraportable.
And you know what? For a piece-of-$%@! netbook dumped into a MacBook Air-like shell, it’s not a bad machine for the sub-$500 price.
It’s a sickness, this desire for iPads. That’s the diagnosis of the head of Acer, the netbook maker that has had the stuffing kicked out of it by, um, the iPad. But don’t fret, the Acer chairman says this tablet “fever” consumers have contracted will break.
Microsoft’s latest attempt at persuading customers to buy a Windows PC rather than a Mac is an advertising campaign that compares the price of Apple machines with computers from Asus, Dell, HP, Sony, and others; and then asks buyers to “do the math” and look at the money they could save – which they could then spend on a trip to Hawaii.
For example, compare Apple’s MacBook Air with a selection of Windows netbooks and straight away you’ll notice the difference in price – with the MacBook Air listed at $1,049 compared to netbooks for as little as $299. We’ll ignore the fact that Microsoft has classed the MacBook Air as a netbook and move on to specifications.
Is the new 11.6-inch MacBook Air a netbook? Steve Jobs would become apoplectic if you called it one, and he’s right. Sure, the 11.6-inch MacBook Air has about the same form factor as a 12-inch netbook, but without any of the latter’s compromised build quality or lousy performance… even when running a netbook’s go-to operating system, Windows 7.