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2009 - the year of the netbook?

2009 - the year of the netbook?

Devices like the Eee PC 1004DN - which bridge the gap between notebook and netbook - may be the future if predictions by DisplaySearch are accurate.

While the slowing global economy is proving disastrous for many in the tech sector, there's one corner of the market which is enjoying a bit of a boom: netbooks.

According to figures from DisplaySearch's rather awkwardly named Quarterly Notebook PC Shipment and Forecast Report – via CNet – sales of the diminutive little devices are looking set to grow a full 65 percent over the course of the year compared to 2008's figures. This contrasts with traditional, full-size notebooks which are pegged to ship just three percent more than last year.

While the netbook has a long way to go before it's a true risk to the notebook market, the figures make convincing reading: if sales proceed as predicted, netbooks will make up a not-inconsiderable twenty percent of the total notebook/netbook/tablet/ultraportable market by the end of the year.

While the devices themselves can be considered a massive success for their creators – with all the major manufacturers bar Apple having made their own version, usually based around Intel's low-power Atom processor – the sales are causing some in the industry to wince in pain. There's no denying that many are deciding that they can do without a desktop replacement luggable and instead purchasing a netbook for a fraction of the price – meaning that revenue is down even while total shipments are up, as consumers opt for the less expensive solution for their portable computing needs.

While DisplaySearch claims that 2009 will be the year of the netbook, it doesn't think the phenomenon will last: pinning much of the success of the low-cost devices on the current credit crunch and consumer's desires to spend less until the financial markets are more stable, the company is predicting a return to full-size notebooks once people feel confident to spend the extra money. Whether this means that devices like the Eee PC 1004DN – which add an optical drive to attempt to bridge the gap between netbook and notebook – will be the future, or whether people will really give up the portability that the netbook form factor offers so easily remains to be seen.

Do you see netbooks going from strength to strength, or is the current craze nothing more than a fad as consumers look to save money on their PC purchases? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

13 Comments

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War-Rasta 2nd April 2009, 15:19 Quote
I personally don't think I'll get one any time soon, maybe ever, but I can see why most people find them attractive. If all you do with a computer at home is surf the web and send a few emails then you really don't need much more than that. On the other hand, me and most of the people here will require a lot more horsepower than what a netbook can provide you with so it's either buy a suitable laptop or get a powerful desktop and a netbook for light computing around the house and such. If you look at these 3 scenarios, 2 of them require a netbook so I can definitely see netbook sales going up.
bowman 2nd April 2009, 15:49 Quote
I have replaced my brick of a laptop with a samsung nc10 and I can't see myself going back. Travelling with a full scale laptop is not worth the hassle.
wharrad 2nd April 2009, 16:13 Quote
Yeah, everyone loves a tiny laptop!

Only thing really, as people miss the point and demand full HD, or the need for an optical drive.. Then ask for increased CPU power... Well, the netbook won't last simply because they'll all end up being full laptops anyway.
Jordan Wise 2nd April 2009, 17:00 Quote
10 inch is the perfect size for a laptop, small enough to be insignificant when you carry it, large enough to have a decent screen and keyboard. Yeah they could do with more power, but I hope this form factor stays
pimlicosound 2nd April 2009, 17:19 Quote
I don't see the form factor disappearing, because people clearly like it regardless of the cost. However, I do see increasing variety in the options offered within the netbook form factor, including greater processing power and better feature sets to rival larger notebooks.

Some people seem to get frightened or offended by these options. I don't think the cheapest, lowest-power netbooks will die out as a result (which seems to be what these people fear). We'll probably just have more choice, which is good for everyone.

Personally, I love the form factor of my MSI Wind, but I do wish it had a bit more power (it struggles to play full-screen video, whether it's HD or not), so I would welcome more diversification in the netbook sector. I love the specs of the MSI X340 - I just wish it came in a 10" version.
Gremlin 2nd April 2009, 17:25 Quote
its going to get a great boost from my state goverment, every student in years/grade 9-12 currently enroled in a public school (over 200,000) will receive a free Lenovo IdeaPad S10e

http://www.itnews.com.au/News/100064,nsw-school-students-spared-vista-netbooks.aspx

last i looked into it the kids get to keep it when they graduate, but with this economic crisis it wouldnt suprise me to see them treated as text books and the kids are asked to hand them back when they leave/graduate

either way i look forward to it since i have a brother in year 9 now so ill get to have nice little play with it heh
evanbraakensiek 2nd April 2009, 17:57 Quote
I bought an Asus EEE PC 900 when it first came out and, when my desktop decided to die, instead of fixing it I decided to leave it when I went back to university - taking only the netbook. I have done without a desktop since last August. While it means I have not played any 'proper' games, my grades have improved significantly. Contrary to popular belief you can use it as a your main machine.
pimlicosound 2nd April 2009, 18:01 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by evanbraakensiek
Contrary to popular belief you can use it as a your main machine.

Indeed. I've used my MSI Wind as my main home PC since I got it last July. I game on my X360 and enjoy media on my PS3, so I really don't need my PC for anything other than web and office tasks.
pendragon 2nd April 2009, 19:08 Quote
I hope they stick around.. and I hope the small form factor stays in place.. they're ideal for traveling .. I just took a trip down to D.C. this past weekend and though how nice it would have been if I had a small light netbook to bring with me ... the thing I'm looking for is for the price to come down to where it was initially in the sub $300 market for a lot of models
hodgy100 2nd April 2009, 21:03 Quote
Im thinking of buying a samsung NC-10. Ive always been put off by laptops because of their short battery life, size and weight, but this netbook is exactly what I need for computing on the move :D even it it will be mainly used as a retro gaming machine :P
notatoad 2nd April 2009, 21:23 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by evanbraakensiek
Contrary to popular belief you can use it as a your main machine.

in the same way that contrary to popular belief you can drink your own urine.
War-Rasta 2nd April 2009, 22:19 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by supertoad
in the same way that contrary to popular belief you can drink your own urine.

And from this point on the thread just gets weirder and weirder... lol
Combatus 3rd April 2009, 01:17 Quote
I guess everyone's definition of 'main machine' is very different! Most netbooks I've used handle basic web browsing, video playback and word processing fine. But do anything too fancy like play flash games or playback HD content then they grind to a halt. I opted for an 11in, widescreen Core Duo based notebook in the end. It's a few hundred grams heavier than your average 10in netbook but the extra power makes a huge difference and the battery life is pretty good too.
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