It is 2007 and a mobile revolution is about to take place. Asus has just brought out the EeePC 701, the first netbook with a 7 inch screen running Linux (XP was to follow). Journalists and consumers alike are starting to get very exited about this low cost, compact and versatile laptop.
Fast forward to 2013 and I think it is fair to say that the netbook era is finished. All the major manufacturers have stopped making netbooks and Acer, the only firm who still do, are stopping this year. So what exactly killed them off?
1. They were underpowered with low end specs
The spec sheet wasn’t exactly stellar. Most of the early ones had 512Mb of RAM and a dual core processor running at about 1.2GHz (or there about) meaning it took a while to open documents and generally get anything done. Microsoft and Intel are partly to blame for this as they realised that they couldn’t make much profit from netbooks and so they put artificial caps on the hardware specs. When netbooks started coming with Windows 7 Starter on them they were even slower!!
2. Compact size
The compact size was a blessing and a curse for the netbook. It was small enough to get carried around with no hassle but the small screen meant low resolution while the keyboard made typing difficult.
This is probably the main factor for the demise of the netbook. Compare the specs of an ipad to a standard netbook and there is no contest. Couple that with touchscreen, apps and general WOW factor and the netbook didn’t stand a chance.
So with the netbook almost gone and tablets seemingly taking their place what is to stop the whole scenario playing out again and this time tablets going the way of the dodo?
Actually there are a couple of things in the tablets favour.
1. Microsoft and Intel can’t cap the hardware specs
Most tablets don’t run Windows or come with Intel processors but instead come with iOS, Android and ARM processors. This means Microsoft can’t bully manufacturers they way they did with the netbook meaning tablets will get whatever specs the manufacturers decide.
2. There is a huge WOW factor surrounding the market
There are apps that allow you to do almost everything these days and consumers like touchscreens. There is still a big buzz surrounding tablets at the moment.
There are low end tablets (recently saw one for £40 on Amazon) for people who just want to browse the internet and check emails but there are also top end tablets with specs which match laptops of 2 years ago. There is basically a tablet at whatever price you are looking for.
4. Tablets are truly mobile
Tablets can be connected to either wifi or 3G which allows them to be truly portable. People are starting to work from coffee shops or anywhere else there is a wifi connection and tablets are a great tool to allow them to do just this.
As great as all this sounds there is one big thing which might hurt the tablet and that is smartphones. Smartphones are getting more powerful with each release and some manufacturers are looking along the lines of using a smartphone with a docking station meaning you get a smartphone when out and about and then a PC when you come back to the office. If this does catch on then tablet sales could significantly drop but as with everything we will have to wait and see!!
So what do you think? Will tablets go the same way as the netbook?
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