Friday, February 06, 2009

the saturation and full circle back; my netbook thoughts (geek op-ed)

well, 2008 sure seemed to be the year of the netbook.  we had tons of choices and tons of manufacturers (including lenovo and hp) getting into the mix and genre-leaders like Asus and MSI updating their lines and expanding.  already in 2009 we are seeing more and more options and further upgrades being added (incluing new chipsets, atom cpus, gpu's).

the netbook genre is defined by its low price point combined w/portability and in turn has caused a few manufacturers to be worried about profit margins on such a cheap setup.  remember that prior to the netbook craze, sub 12" laptops ran over $2,000 a pop.  however, i believe that 2009 is going to be a year (if the economy cooperates) that the manufacturers get one back. hit the jump to hear this geeks theory.

first off, this post is not based on raw data or stats or even a 'real' analysts thoughts.  nope, this is just my own opinion based upon being a part of the community and a geek.  ok, so now that disclaimers are out of the way.

netbook (noun)

A subnotebook computer that costs less than US$400 and incorporates an Intel Atom microprocessor (ZDNet)

 A subnotebook computer that costs less than $400. The term was coined by Intel in 2008 for computers that use the Intel Atom microprocessor. However, it may refer to small PCs that use non-Intel CPUS such as those made by AMD and Via (PC Mag)

this definition which as of right now maybe out the window if psion goes after the industry for using such trademarks, which they really should just be proud that a product of theirs, which has not seen a new model or refresh in over 2 years, defines a genre/category.  its like Post-Its (but then again, i'm kind of a hippie like that)

with the new wave of netbooks arriving in 2009, we are about to see netbooks actually out price themselves out of the genre.  more powerful gpus will definitely add to the cost of the machine and other possible add-ins such as 3G cards and GPS will do the same.  yes, costs can be offset by mobile carrier subsidation (which is already starting) however the total cost of ownership of the machine over a year will be well over $400, probably closer to $1000 after 3G data service bills and hardware.

add into the mix the possibility of Windows 7 at the very close of 2009 (i say Win7 RTM by early nov 09 if win7 makes 2009, microsoft will def want to get it OS out before thanksgiving and the rush. they would also want to get it to the oems like HP and Dell a few weeks before tday to let them start installing new machines w/it and prepping for major holiday rush which will be even more important this year. ), which will also increase the cost of the machine.

so basically i see 2009 as the year the netbook grows up and gets even more add-ons.  i see the genre coming back full circle to what it subplanted; sub-notebooks.  the main things driving this full circle type of pattern would be discrete gpus for gaming, touchscreens for easier input, more mini pci-e cards/3Gcards, GPS addons.  these things all cost money and add to the price.

i do not think we'll see over $1500 sub-notes books, but i definitely could see the 'premium' models nearing the $1000 range.

so like bob marley said, "what goes around comes around..."

/end geek op-ed