Parks Associates Blog

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Era of the Netbook?

It was interesting to go from the Intel Developer Forum a couple of weeks ago to IFA last week and see the emphasis being placed on the "netbook" category of personal computers. At the IDF in San Francisco, Intel placed a great deal of emphasis on its Atom™ low-power processors designed specifically for mobile Internet devices (MIDs). Intel breaks the MID space into three main categories:
  • Productivity Notebooks and MIDs;
  • Consumer MIDs (these could include navigational devices and other consumer devices); and
  • Communication MIDs (these are in the next stage of smartphone evolution).
Intel defines netbooks as "small laptops that are designed for wireless communication and access to the Internet." Others have defined netbooks by their low price and scaled-down capabilities. Wikipedia defines netbooks as "a category of small-sized, low-cost, light weight, lean function subnotebooks optimized for Internet access and core computing functions."

Netbooks are being developed with the "BRIC" nations in mind (developing countries such as Brazil, Russia, India, and China), but also as secondary PCs in developed countries. Intel has a good blog that shares some thoughts on the netbook category.

We saw Atom referenced with a few netbook/ultra mobile PC (UMPC) announcements last week at IFA. Among there were the Fujitsu Siemens AMILO Mini and the LG Electronics X110. Wibrain also showed a product called the i1.

Intel is not alone in targeted processors for the MID/UMPC (ultra mobile PC market). We saw VIATechnologies at the ShowStoppers event in Berlin last week. They were showcasing their VIA OpenBook Mini-Note Reference Design based on their VIA Ultra Mobility Platform. They showed some systems, including the Elonex webbook, the HP 2133 Mini-Note PC, and the Brunen IT One. Wibrain, mentioned above, has a number of VIA-powered UMPCS.

Today's Wall Street Journal indicates that Dell will be getting into the netbook space, offering a sub-$400 system. The space is evidently getting more crowded by the day.

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