Will Apple release a netbook? That is the word heading around the rumor mill. First lets backup. Apple prides itself in being secretive and keeping people in the dark until product launch. Because of that secrecy it is sort of a game for outsiders to be the first to predict a product before Apple does. So you’ll see many predictions and every once and a while someone gets it right.
Personally I would like to see a true netbook come out of Apple. In hard economic times why not cut the consumer some slack and release a cheaper end portable computer along the same lines of the Mac Mini. They don’t have to pay it too much attention or even make it look that nice, it would just be nice to have an option for a mac under $1000. Hey it could even be above $500 and I would still think it was a deal.
In the article linked above Ars argues that the iPhone serves the gap of no netbook. I couldn’t disagree more. The iPhone is a great device for specific purposes. I carry it with me everywhere I go and it is always on the internet. I can get quite a bit of work done on the iPhone. I don’t “need” a netbook, but my wife on the other hand does. She needs to be able to open, edit, and print documents of various types. She needs to be browse multiple websites at once. She usually needs to do so at school where wifi is readily available. Not to mention that the closed nature of the iPhone is quite annoying (give me flash and let me do video chat). Netbooks are paired down computers, but they are still open computers nonetheless. My wife can watch any streaming video she wants, she can type papers if she needs, she can play some games, and can open any document type she wants. Can the iPhone do that? You let me plug in a keybaord on my iPhone and setup printers and install non-Apple apps on my iPhone and I might consider it a replacement for a netbook.
I don’t want to get into the game of predictions, but as this recession continues and Apple continues to watch their market be eclipsed by the likes of Acer because of netbooks one has to imagine they are considering entering that lucrative market. It is true that Apple sales are steady, but in hard economic times you have to be innovative and the companies that aren’t get left behind in the dust. So while these rumors may be totally baseless, I wouldn’t be surprised if in the near future Apple releases a low end netbook to the market.