What Happened to Netbooks?

What Happened to Netbooks?

What Went Wrong?

After the netbook market died, many people wondered what happened to the supposed “next big thing.” Why did it die? Was it ahead of its time? Was it even ever good in the first place? The conclusion came that there were multiple reasons why it failed.

1 – Tablets

Tablets are small, lightweight, touchscreen computers where the main appeal is fast storage and long battery life. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? A major company, Apple, realized that people either wanted actual laptops that was portable or cheap machines that can have light sessions. Instead of flowing with what was popular and making their version of a netbook, they made two machines that will change the way industry was back then. The release of the MacBook Air in 2008 and the iPad in 2010 has greatly influenced the market and the public. The iPad made it clear that it was not a replacement for a laptop and instead, was a truly mobile gadget meant for light computing. Everything, from the operating system and the experience, made it superior to the netbook. With no keyboard to make it clunky, being able to turn on instantly, and an App Store, the industry became filled with tablets, abandoning the mere thought of netbooks.

2 – Windows 8

The netbook was originally Linux based but then moved on to Windows, the first version being Windows Vista. The problem, however, was that Windows Vista was “heavy.” This made netbooks heavier, have a slower mechanical hard drive and less battery life. Windows 7 came out and was optimized for less-powerful PCS which was perfect for the netbook. This still did not save the netbook and actually caused problems including allowing only three desktop applications to run at a time (they did remove this) and not even being able to change the wallpaper (you would have to have a third-party program to change it). With heavier Windows software, bloatware that was needed, and antivirus software that was required, it did not allow the netbook to have an excellent experience, especially with such cheap and cramped keyboards and trackpads. Windows8 sealed the deal when there was just no way in can be inputted into a netbook. Windows 8 required a minimum of 1024 x 768 display with netbooks having 1024 x 600 display. When the public could not even update their netbooks, moving on to other devices which had Windows 8 was simply the better option.

3 – Performance Levels and Impracticality

Performance levels for the netbook was advertise as being able to handle light sessions like web surfing or watching videos. However, a survey in 2009 by the market research firm NPD illustrated that people bought netbooks because they thought that netbooks could be used as a substitute for a standard laptop. Whether it was a miscommunication or not well played out advertising, people were generally disappointed when realizing netbooks weren’t as powerful as laptops. Even then, everyday tasks were hard. The small keyboards made basic word processing hard, low-resolution screens made for a cramped experiencce and there was no way to game soundly. Performance levels were also dropping with the Windows operating system fiasco but for some, it could be overlooked due to its cheap price tags. Then came in tablets where it was around the same price tag but wuth better performance levels. People loved the touchscreen and mobile games like Angry Birds and Candy Crush. Performance levels did not meet up to par with what people expected and with up and coming devices that offered better performance levels, the netbook market diminished.

4 – Enhanced Versions

While tablets helped to end netbooks, other devices came to play in the market that people saw were better than netbooks. Ultrabooks are a line of high-end subnotebook computers which features reduced bulkiness, long batteyr life and portability. It emerged by Intel to compete with the beloved MacBook Air from Apple. While the reduced bulkiness is very noticeable, it is still larger than netbooks to make for a decent sized screen and large keyboard for comfortable typing. While the processing power is not as good as a regular computer, it can run software a lot better than netbooks. It has premium specs with premium price tags, but the public does not seem to mind with the advantages outweighing the cost. According to Juniper Research, by 2016, almost every notebook will resemble as an Ultrabook. This has come to be true. Chromebooks are another enhanced version that has taken off. They are essentially the new netbooks but run a specialized version of Linux. They still are cheap, small and have more low-end specs but offer way better experience due to better keyboards and trackpads. While netbooks may have been the original at its time, better and enhanced versions pop up to outclass it.

5 – Apple

Apple’s famous tablets and MacBook Air are known for its innovation and to many people considering it to be the main killer of netbooks. It was stated that Apple created the iPad and MacBook Air instead of a netbook which caused many people to go buy their better crafted devices. But why did Apple, with their act of courageousness to go against the status quo, decide not to make their own version? One reason was that the size just called for an inferior experience which Apple did not want to make. Another reasons was that they could not make a netbook. Apple’s business philsophy is choosing profit over sales. They could sell 1,000,000 netbooks but would not make as much profit due to the low cost of a netbook. It was better business wise for them to make something expensive because for them, it would be worth it. With that creation shook that industry and changed the game. Tablets were the new “it” thing and the MacBook Air called for competitors to up their gmae by making enhanced versions of the nebook. Netbooks did not stand a chance against Apple’s one decision.


While many people nowadays will criticize netbooks, this does not mean that it was worthless. Realizing the time it was created, many people simply could not afford to buy anything better. The recession hit America hard and the cheapness for a decent performance device gave people a bit of entertainment at the end of a hard day. Even then, some people have asked if netbooks were ahead of its time. This is true for its core idea. The idea and thought were right, especially with how it matches with many of our devices nowadays. The execution did not hold up however as we just did not have the technology yet. Its inspiration lives on in tablets, Ultrabooks and Chromebooks. The timeline of our market would surely be different without the introduction of netbooks.

Due to the enhancement of technology, netbooks are just not profitable in the market currently. It has easily been replaced with tablets, Ultrabooks and Chromebooks. It can still be bought for very cheap at certain retailers like Amazon and eBay.


While netbooks are scoffed at in 2017, this does not make it insignificant. Like many other technology, there are rises and falls. Netbooks rise in 2007 due to Asus making something that was never seen before. It truly did make an impact. In 2010, statistics show that vendors shipped around 32 million netbooks. The falls were hard however. Two years later, that figure went down to 14.1 million, and in 2014, went down to a mere 264,000 units. While its fail was not graceful, its impact stays in our industry with the core idea living in our current technology. While many people will only see the impact of Apple’s legacy, netbooks were there at the beginning. The legacy of netbooks has allowed for victories of Apple, and the users of the market

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