According to DigiTimes, Asus is about to launch a new netbook (model E1004DN) which will include an optical drive.
Other features include:
- Intel Atom N280
- GN40 chipset
- 120GB hard drive
- MSRP $531 – 590
Well it did not take long for netbooks to morph into notebooks. We are seeing the same trend in desktops with prices hitting sub $500 levels for fully featured desktops, albeit some with anemic Intel Atom CPUs. The worldwide depression is forcing retail and business buyers to more closely evaluate what they really need as opposed to buying PCs with lots of unused overhead.
There is no doubt in my mind that the dual core Atoms will start showing up in netbooks/notebooks later this year as consumers look to replace overweight notebooks with slimmed-down notebooks, but NOT at prices such as Sony charges for its high-end light-weight notebooks. Manufacturers will look to up-scale the line to recapture notebook-like margins – netbooks are cannibalizing notebooks at an alarming rate for some manufacturers, especially those late coming to market.
At this point netbooks are enjoying a price advantage as most are shipped with Windows XP, although Ubuntu is gaining share at a nice clip. Manufacturers at present are faced with making a future choice to load an emasculated version of Windows 7 to keep costs down, letting users take the option of upgrading, or embracing Ubuntu as the Windows alternative, which will certainly stimulate M$s competitive juices. A third alternative is to load an upscale version of Windows 7, but the OS price as a percentage of the total may be a hard sell.
One thing Ubuntu does which M$ does not is release a new OS every six months. Each one appears to be a worthy upgrade and closes the “OS gap” that has kept Linux in the single digits. It’s interesting to see a relatively tiny outfit like Ubuntu take on the tech hordes that M$ unleashes to deliver OSs that sometimes hit the mark and sometimes (eg ME, Vista) miss quite badly. Kudos to the opens source community for enabling “community OS development”.
All told I think we are seeing a real paradigm shift in consumer attitudes relative to what’s needed for 95 – 98% of computing needs. Bloated OSs supported by high power CPUs are starting to seem retro and in light of green initiatives, wasteful. As world economies recover, the interesting trend is to see if in fact the “downshifting” of PCs continues or consumers rapidly forget, as many seem to have done with US gas prices at sub $2 levels.
While I continue to land in the “permanent” camp, back-to-the-future would not surprise me either.