Well this is kind of awkward. In an interview published on Forbes’ blog yesterday, Eric Ackerson, a senior product marketing and brand manager at Acer, said that “the death of netbooks is overstated,” in regard to the proliferation of tablets like the iPad. His reasoning is simple: tablets are expensive, netbooks are not.
The article reports that while netbooks are no longer seeing the explosive growth they used to, their more reasonable price points — most are around $250, while tablets are typically $499 and up — will appeal to consumers enough to keep companies like Acer alive. Party hats, everyone!
Uh-uh, not so fast, says the tablet market, which, in new data collected by Nielson and published early this morning, reveals that portable devices like the iPad aren’t just eating into the netbook market — they’re eating into just about everything.
Here’s a key factoid:
35 percent of tablet owners who also owned a desktop computer reported using their desktop less often or not at all, while 32 percent of those who also owned laptops, said they used their laptop less often or never since acquiring a tablet.
Makes sense, unless you’re the type who likes to sit at your PC with a tablet in your lap (which I’ve been guilty of). For most, though, it’s completely reasonable shiny new tablets would eat into a user’s time spent doing other things.
But the more damning piece of evidence for netbooks is that in the short year since the market leading iPad launched in 2010 (now with the Xoom and PlayBook entering the space), one-third of tablet owners are shunning their other devices. And that number is expected to grow.
Will the endangered netbook survive, even in aftermath of the tablets’ Trail of Destruction? We’ll find out soon. And to its credit, Acer’s also hedging its bets with tablets of its own anyway.
But I’m reminded of an old Wired essay that made a compelling case for “just good enough” technology, which the netbook is quickly becoming. It argues that minimal and affordable devices may very well be able to thrive alongside more expensive and innovative ones.
The downside, though, is that the device leaned on most heavily in the essay’s thesis was the Flip — and we all know what happened to that.
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