Yeah, you know, those small Wi-Fi-happy machines sporting 8-13” screens, flash-based storage drives, Intel Atom central processors, etcetera, etcetera.
For a large portion of the global population, even those in well-developed regions, this might seem like really loose premise. Netbooks for everyone? Why not get an full-on laptop? You can do more with your dollar! And any simple tasks on the Web can be done with some of the smartphones making the rounds on hardware review sites, right? Well, I’m not so sure.
Here’s the thing. Web apps aren’t meant to be simple. At least not in a utilitarian sense. Yes, developers serious about the craftmaking of such services go to considerable lengths to ensure greater sense of intuitiveness and ease of use than might ordinarily be the case with any equivalent desktop-based program design. Things at the backend need to be “thinner and lighter” in size and weight, too.
But to think we can rely on our iPhones and T-Mobile G1s and BlackBerry Bolds and Storms and whathaveyou to fully engage with office and social media applications seems a tad impractical. Mobile software designs are good and are getting better by the month, but the kind of pixelated real estate you can comfortably stuff in your pant pocket can only provide for so much interactivity. Of course, the outlook for power for the mobile phone market is as rosy as can be right now. But for the foreseeable future, there remains a place for bigger things.
Not so much bigger, though. We recently shared a few notes on the netbook space and how things are progressing in the field, both in hardware and software. It’s safe to say that in recent months, apart from the requisite dotage on Apple’s lineup of philosophically conventional MacBook and MacBook Pro products, the market of netbooks has transferred to a semi-front burner position in terms of attention grabbed and attention earned.
And its quite clear why that is. The class of gadgets led by the Asus EEE PC has performed in ways that would not be the case two or three years ago, and it’s mark as something of a phenomenon largely comes down to price. Consumers can grab a fairly well-equipped netbook from the current crop of options for an average of $300-500. (According to recent news, Asus may launch a $200 offering next year.)
What’s more, users are no longer hindered by absurdly small screen sizes, as was the case for the first run of 7” designs from Asus.