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.