Netbooks:are they the ‘gamechanger’?


The Economist has an interesting piece on Netbooks. They suggest that these may be the disruptive technology that will causes a major change in personal computing.

Yet although netbooks have acquired many frills and mutated into new forms, the theory behind them endures: computers do not need to be stuffed with the latest whizz-bang technology if they have a high-speed connection to the “cloud” of services available online. At Computex firms showed devices equipped with WiMAX, a new wireless technology that allows for fast, ubiquitous wireless connections.

It is this combination of connectivity and cloud computing that makes netbooks and their successors so disruptive. Some mobile-network operators now throw in free netbooks if subscribers sign up for a mobile-broadband contract. This will put further pressure on prices, since mobile operators have more bargaining power than individual consumers, although it also opens a huge new distribution channel for computer-makers.

More important, netbooks and similar devices could weaken Microsoft and Intel, which have so far dominated the PC industry and extracted most of the profits.

Netbooks could signal a major shift to wireless and to the use of  the ‘cloud’.

Note as well the reference to mobile network operators providing free netbooks. Now this is very reminiscent of the mobile phone market. Incidentally, some years ago I asked a NZ telco why we could not have the phones for ‘free’ as part of a mobile contract and was effectively told I was insane.

A challenge to NZ telcos, or mobile broadband providers, who will be the first to offer ‘free netbooks’ and say Skype or an equivalent. Note Google’s Android could be a major player.

Now this would require more widely available wireless broadband, plus greater capacity and more keenly priced plans. However, I would suggest the mobile market as such is reaching saturation in NZ, so someone needs a circuit breaker.

Netbooks may well be the ‘gamechanger’ which many have been looking for. Like all disruptive technologies, the impact of the change cannot as yet be clearly foreseen, but opportunities will abound.

If things go this way, please remember you read it here.

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