The Netbook Effect: How Small, Inexpensive Laptops Have Been Most Popular


What happened was something completely different. When Asustek launched the Eee PC in the fall of 2007, it sold its entire inventory of 350,000 units in a matter of months. Eee PCs weren’t bought by people in poor countries, but by middle-class consumers in Western Europe and the United States, people who wanted a second laptop to carry in a purse to throw away. have a look at YouTube or Facebook wherever they are. Soon, the big PC brands — Dell, HP, Lenovo — were quick to catch up; by the fall of 2008, almost every US computer manufacturer had released a $ 400 mini-netbook.

All of this is, when you think about it, incredibly strange. Netbooks violate all laws in the hardware industry. Traditionally, development has shifted from high end to mass market. PC makers are targeting early adopters with powerful new features. Years later, these innovations spread to low-end models.

But Jepsen’s design sank up. In the process of creating a laptop to meet the needs of poor people, it revealed something about traditional PC users. They didn’t want more of a laptop, they wanted less.

Specific shot: laptop versus netbook

Many netbooks are swapping the fast onboard processors and roomy hard drives of a full-size laptop for online applications and small but fast SSDs. The result? A formidable machine at a third of the price. Lenovo ThinkPad T500 Netbook Dell Inspiron Mini 9 Laptop

| Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 2.26 GHz processor 1.6 GHz single-core Intel Atom N270

| Microsoft Windows Vista Home Ubuntu Linux 8.04 operating system

| 1 GB of system memory 512 MB

| 80 GB hard drive Storage 4 GB SSD

| 15.4 inches, 1280 x 800 pixels Screen size 8.9 inches, 1024 x 600 pixels

| 802.11b / g 802.11b / g wireless access

$ 959 Price $ 299

By the end of 2008, Asustek had sold 5 million netbooks, and other brands together had sold 10 million. (Europe in particular has gone mad about netbooks; sales there are eight times higher than in the United States.) In just one year, netbooks have grown to 7% of the entire global laptop market. Next year it will be 12%.

“We started to invent technology for the bottom of the pyramid,” Jepsen says, “but the top of the pyramid wants it too.” This little piece of innovation, this netbook, may well reshape the computer industry, if it doesn’t kill it first.

I wrote this story on a netbook, and if you had glanced over my shoulder, you would have seen precisely two icons on my desktop: the Firefox browser and a trash can. Nothing else.

It turns out that about 95% of what I do on a computer can now be accomplished through a browser. I use it to update Twitter and Facebook and to blog. Meebo.com allows me to log into multiple instant messaging accounts simultaneously. Last.fm makes me air, and webmail takes care of e-mail. I use Google Docs for word processing, and if I need to record a video I can do it directly from the webcam to YouTube. Come to think of it, since none of my documents reside on the netbook, I’m not even sure I need the trash.

About Jon Moses

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