Apple COO Tim Cook's recent comments about Netbooks may reflect an incipient movement to look beyond this category of laptops--now more than a year old. The comments also echo lingering disaffection with the Netbook business model. Sentiment that may not be that far removed from Intel's internal thinking.
This New York Times blog does a good job of dispelling any ambiguity about Cook's comments when it says that "contempt may be too kindly a term" to describe his attitude toward Netbooks.
Cook joins a small chorus of less blunt but equally disdainful companies. Toshiba initially resisted Netbooks and in conversations I had with Toshiba at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January (where its Netbook offering had been relegated, quite intentionally, to an easy-to-miss corner of its sprawling booth) they clearly were not enthusiastic about (if not disdainful of) the category.
Toshiba, caving to pressure in its home market (Japan) from Acer and Asus, has since come out with a redesigned Netbook but has yet to offer anything officially in the U.S. market--more than a year after the Atom processor was launched.
And in case anyone misses the irony. Toshiba practically invented the laptop category and, to state the obvious, is one of the largest laptop vendors in the world.
And Sony has gone out of its way to say that its Netbook-like notebook is not a Netbook--and priced it accordingly.
Advanced Micro Devices has been more outspoken than most. Their contempt, to a large extent, is a given since they are Intel's chief rival. And, unlike Toshiba and Sony, they're not a customer of Intel's and don't have to couch their disdain in diplomatic language. (Skeptics will cite a host of other reasons too: AMD's lack of R&D funds to develop an Atom equivalent, for one.).
That said, in conversations I have had with AMD (including CEO Dirk Meyer), they seem to genuinely believe that Netbooks--as defined by Atom--are not going to be around for the long haul. In short, like Apple's Cook, they think they're too dinky. (See Cook's comments linked above for a variation on this theme, including the words "junky," "terrible," and "cramped.")
There is also some anecdotal evidence that demand for Intel's Atom Netbook processors is slowing a bit. (It should be noted that the source for this information is Digitimes, which is not always the most reliable font of information.) … Read more