Apple Not Ready for Netbooks, Yet

Dennis Faas's picture

There's nothing hotter in the computer world than the "Netbook". These slim, light, 8.9" and 10.2" systems feature impressive speed and abilities, so long as you're not looking for a Crysis fix on-the-go. And yet, industry powerhouse Apple doesn't seem to want a piece of the pie.

Earlier this year, Apple COO Tim Cook referred to netbooks as "much less powerful" than the minimum requirements of the average user. Even with sales of Acer's Aspire One, HP's Mini-Note, and Lenovo's IdeaPad soaring, Apple's execs could only muster this in describing their own feelings about the market: "We are watching the space...We've got some ideas here." (Source:

It's late April, and netbooks are continuing to sell. Anything changed?

Cook recently sounded off on Apple's updated feeling on netbooks, and it doesn't appear that the Cupertino-based company is ready to dive in, at least, not yet. Asked if Apple had a netbook product up their sleeves, Cook snipped "when I look at what is being sold in the netbook space today, I see cramped keyboards, terrible software, junky hardware, very small screens, and just not a consumer experience...that we would put the Mac brand on, quite frankly."

In essence, this kind of sentiment is in line with CEO Steve Jobs' feeling that Apple's immensely popular iPod Touch and iPhone are answers to the netbook consumer. They offer music, movie, and TV downloads and playback on-the-go, plenty of games and messaging functions, and the usual phone capabilities. And yet, I'm personally fascinated by netbooks and don't feel a handheld music phone is a replacement for a full and effective QWERTY keyboard. At heart, they're entirely different products.

More Ideas, but Few Actions

Cook seems to recognize this himself. In that same recent interview, he admitted, "if we can find a way to deliver an innovative product that really makes a contribution, then we'll do that. We have some interesting ideas in this space." It's not dramatically different from Cook's January comments about "watching the space," but as the netbook market continues to grow and the products slowly replace the questionably-portable 15.4" standard, perhaps things can, and will, change.

Of course, there doesn't appear to be any need for Apple to modify its current game plan. The company recently announced impressive profits of $1.21 billion for the last quarter, up 15 per cent from the same period a year ago. (Source:

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