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Thanks Steve Jobs for Muddying the Waters about Netbooks and MIDs



Just when you thought things in the mobile space were all going to settle in on the name Netbook to describe the devices that mostly come with a 9/10 inch screen, run Intel’s Atom processor at 1.6GHz, operate on either Linux or XP, etc.. etc… Steve Jobs comes along. He does a “suprise appearance” at on an earnings call and muddies up the waters. Apparently on the recent call, Jobs said the Netbook market was “nascent,” and that:

There are some customers which we chose not to serve. We don’t know how to make a $500 computer that’s not a piece of junk, and our DNA will not let us ship that. But we can continue to deliver greater and greater value to those customers that we choose to serve. And there’s a lot of them.”

He also added that Apple had some pretty interesting ideas about that space if it did evolve.

Going further about Netbooks, Jobs said, “”You know, one of our entrants into that category if you will is the iPhone, for browsing the Internet, and doing email and all the other things that a netbook lets you do. And being connected via the cellular network wherever you are, an iPhone is a pretty good solution for that, and it fits in your pocket.”

That did it. Now everywhere you look on the InterTubes you see posts saying the iPhone is Apple’s Netbook. Heck, even we picked up on it. Well, I don’t quite think things are lining up so conveniently, even though the headline writers are off riding horses that have already left the barn. Had Steve Jobs been talking about MIDs, I think his comparison would be apt. But as you can see from the list Intel posted today of MIDs that are actually shipping, they aren’t really making any significant impact as of the moment.

And if that wasn’t enough, in the middle of all this, John Markoff of the NYTimes updated his post in a way that got things running fast and furious on the Apple Mobile Device/Tablet/Netbook/MID rumor mill by saying this:

UPDATED: That would seem to confirm findings that a search engine company shared with me on condition that I not reveal its name: The company spotted Web visits from an unannounced Apple product with a display somewhere between an iPhone and a MacBook. Is it the iPhone 3.0 or the NetMac 1.0?

Oh, my. Here we go again. Confusion run rampant. Thanks, Steve. We needed that.



  1. Aaron Axvig

    10/22/2008 at 10:06 pm

    So someone installed OS X on their netbook and browsed some websites. WOW…obviously Apple is up to something. (Sarcasm)

  2. romeo

    10/23/2008 at 12:45 am

    “500 doller piece of junk!”

    really? then what is the macbook air? oh wait its the 1799doller piece of junk!!

  3. Ben

    10/23/2008 at 4:02 am

    I thought Steve Jobs knew something about computers, but maybe not.

  4. Kenneth

    10/23/2008 at 6:12 am

    I’d like to see the look on Steve’s face when the market share of netbooks exceed that of Apple. For the price/performance, people want that junk. A lot.

  5. GoodThings2Life

    10/23/2008 at 7:20 am

    Adobe Flash is junk.

    Copy/Paste is junk.

    Tablet PC’s are junk.

    Netbooks are junk.

    … is there ANYTHING in the world that isn’t junk?

    Now I understand the phrase, “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.”

  6. Greatwhte

    10/23/2008 at 7:57 am

    Since when does a small fish in a big pond muddy the waters? It’s great that you care so much about Steve Job’s opinions on this topic, but you may be in the minorty. Forest or trees?

  7. Warner Crocker

    10/23/2008 at 8:28 am

    @Greatwhte: I may indeed be wrong with my opinion and out of the majority. But then, in my experiences on this planet, the majority opinion isn’t necessarily always the correct one. ;)

  8. Sumocat

    10/23/2008 at 8:56 am

    I really don’t see where, as many are claiming, that Jobs says the iPhone is a netbook. He said “one of our entrants into that category if you will is the iPhone”, which I take to mean the iPhone is a competitor against netbooks. That’s a valid claim. Notebooks, MIDs, UMPCs, Tablet PCs, Pocket PCs, and smartphones are all competing with netbooks in the mobile computing market. Anyone thinking about mobile computing should be considering which of these options or mix will work best for them.

    That said, we’re already seen one third-party vendor propose an expansion that turns the iPhone into a netbook, so it’s only a matter of time before it competes in the same form factor as well.

  9. everbrave

    10/23/2008 at 2:27 pm

    I used all generations of the Apple Newton until Steve Jobs “killed” it. It was a fantastic device which one could as well call the first Tablet/MID. Some of the published reasons on Newton forums for killing the Newton were (acording to Steve):
    1) Newton does not have a (built-in) keyboard; people want one
    2) Newton is too large for a pocket
    3) Newton is too expensive

    This tells us how he thinks about this kind of a device.
    I agree with him on 2) and 3) but not on 1).
    While the iPhone does not have a keyboard, it is small and affordable.
    Steve could also change his opinion about a “Newton-like” device.
    I wish to interpret his statement as that he would rather offer something “serious” of a “high quality” at something more than 500US$ (but perhaps less than US$1000). Could it be an iPhone-like device with 7″ or 10″ display? Making calls using a Bluetooth headset?
    Absolutely possible. Apple offers one of the most stable OS available today (thanks to Vista) with a usability-centered (human-centered) attractive design.

    So, in summary, I also think that Apple is planning a device larger than the iPhone and smaller than the MacBook

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