The Netbook Is Dead

Ralph DeFrangesco

The netbook is dead and thank God for it. So what will take its place? The notebook, of course. Netbooks are those small-footprint systems that can fit in your coat pocket, or almost. They have been a real disappointment to most users because of lack of power, size, storage and applications. I reported about the danger of using these devices on corporate networks in March and I stick by my recommendation not to use them in the future.


Notebooks, on the other hand, have grown in size and functionality. In fact, the newest devices are using the dual-core ULV Celeron processor, a larger display, have 2 GB of memory, 160 GB of storage or more, a longer battery life, and are running Windows 7.


Keep in mind that even though the netbook is dead, the malware that affects notebook users -- in fact, all users -- is alive and well. My concern is that these devices are not business ready and they are made to primarily connect to the Internet. I know that every computer is capable of connecting to the Internet and should be equally protected. However, the chance of downloading malware is greater the longer you are connected.


Second, because the devices are so cheap, companies are purchasing them in quantity. Some employees use a desktop at work and a netbook or notebook at home or for travel. Let's face it, the more devices you have deployed, the harder it is to keep them patched and up to date with AV software. This is just another device to support along with the servers, desktops, smartphones, and laptops we are already supporting.


Third, I believe that its small form factor makes it easier to lose. Now don't get me wrong, I don't need to carry around a boat anchor to remember to bring it with me, but I do know that the smaller a device is, the easier it is to lose. My wife and children are always misplacing their cell phones.


Finally, I truly believe that users will not be happy with the performance of the device as compared to a laptop. Even with 2 GB of memory, I feel that it will be a constant comparison to the performance they are currently experiencing on the desktop or laptop.


I don't want to get caught up in the "lingo" of netbook, notebook, and laptop. I have seen readers bash bloggers for calling a device a notebook when they thought it should be called a netbook and vice versa. The point I am making here is that the smaller form-factor device that people have called a netbook is gone. It has been replaced with a slightly larger device -- call it a notebook or whatever. I still don't see a place for it on the corporate network. In the long run, it's just another device to support and I don't believe that the end user will be happy once they use it in a production environment.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Nov 30, 2009 9:32 AM netbook user netbook user  says:

I use a netbook that runs Ubuntu(linux).  Much faster that windows, definitely more secure, and it has what a netbook needs in terms of apps.  The solid state drive is small but doesn't need to be any larger given the lean OS and cloud focused approach to applications.  XP runs like a dog on the same box and takes so long to boot, 52sec vs 18 sec, that you don't bother half the time. 

As for security, especially on WiFi: these issues are the same and require the same controls that a notebook/laptop would face. There are no viruses or malware in the Linux world (I'm touching wood as I write this).  THAT DOES NOT MEAN that there is no need to be security aware and diligent with patches, configuration etc.. But a major headache/cost is just not there.

I'm hopeful that Windows 7 will prove a more useful OS for netbooks but pricing maybe an issue after loading it with the OS, MS Office (again why?) and other desktop overkill.  If you try to use it like a notebook it ends up costing like a notebook (money and performance hits) and I would agree that makes no sense.

Netbooks work fine, the industry killed them by loading them up with "value": the higher price point sound good to a retailer/box mover but missed the point of the concept. I think the main reason Netbooks may continue to decline is the rise of smartphones and improved apps there: that's the real competition.



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