Netbooks Not Dead Yet

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This week, a spate of stores reported that an Acer sales executive had predicted the slow death of netbooks as tablets take off. Some took the news as an opportunity to tap-dance on the netbook's grave. But now Acer is saying that it was all a big misunderstanding.

Here's a bit of a statement the company released after those initial reports, under the title "Acer NOT phasing out netbooks in favor of tablet:"

Mobility, which has always been part of Acer's DNA, finds a new form of expression in the range of tablets on offer, which feature various display sizes and models designed to fit different kinds of usage scenarios. Acer recognizes that the computer market is changing. As PCs are no longer only used to create content but are more and more becoming consumption tools, new devices and new form factors are appearing.

This means the range of devices available to users is getting wider and tablets are just another piece of the mosaic. Therefore, they will find their space next to netbooks and notebooks.

One of the things I like about Acer is that its executives are sometimes startlingly honest (when it came to the fiasco known as Windows Vista, CEO Gianfranco Lanci didn't mince words). So I suspect that the Acer honcho quoted in the original stories wasn't misquoted -- and that if his point was that tablets will cut into netbook sales, he's right.

But I can't see tablets killing netbooks -- which are, let's remind ourselves, nothing more than a type of notebook that happens to be small, cheap, and (usually) not exactly bursting with high-performance components. There's a place for them, just as there's a place for cars that are small, cheap, and not exactly bursting with high-performance components. And even if netbooks are no longer sexy -- and hey, they lost their luster a long time ago -- I suspect they'll be on the market for years to come. Maybe even after some companies which are currently jumping into the tablet market decide to jump back out of it again.

Pundits and industry types love to predict the demise of netbooks; pundits and industry types keep underestimating their appeal. I'm pleased with my iPad, but if I were required by law to own only one computing device, and was forced to choose between an iPad and an Acer netbook, I'd go with the Acer -- at least until Apple introduces an iPad with a keyboard. Which it won't.

How about you?

This story, "Netbooks Not Dead Yet" was originally published by Technologizer.

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