Apple’s NetBook release strategy | Redefining “netbook”

Lately there’s been a lot of talk about Apple reducing it’s notebook pricing and coming out with a cheap MacBook that would be able to reside in the netbook segment of the market.  This has created a lot of controversy around whether or not Apple should release a cheap product.  Apple has stated that they don’t know how to make a $500 computer that’s not a piece of junk.  This statement alone tells us two things.

  1. Apple is not going to release any sort of typical netbook – currently, a netbook is just a cheap, low performance, ultra-portable laptop.  Apple will not make one of these because it would be a piece of junk.  Apple doesn’t make junk.
  2. Apple is going to redefine the netbook category, just like they did with the mobile smartphone market.  This is the only way they can create a low-cost alternative without breaking the sales of their current product offerings.  To redefine the netbook makes sense anyway – the term is currently very loosely defined as a “cheap” crappy, ultra-portable laptop.

I think the controversy and the confusion really stems from the term “Netbook.”  Netbook is just a marketing term: 4 years ago we called obsolete computers “junk” and threw them away or gave them to somebody else.  Today, we call those same obsolete, under-performing computers “netbooks” because even though they can’t keep up with the processing needs of most applications anymore, they can still effectively browse the internet.  The term “netbook” is only valid now that the internet is such a central part of our interaction on the computer.  When was the last time you used a computer without using the internet?

So when the headlines read “Low-Price Apple Netbook Coming Next Year,” everybody thinks, “since when does Apple create low priced anything?”  What the headlines are really saying (and what everybody really means) is that Apple is going to come out with a product in that price category – but that it’s not going to be a netbook as it’s currently defined.  I also guarantee that whatever Apple comes up with, it’s not going to be “cheap” like many headlines read.  Apple doesn’t make cheap products – they make high-price, high-quality products. When they redefined the smartphone they didn’t make it cheap.  The only reason it ended up being affordable was through the subsidized pricing from AT&T (and the other phone companies around the world).  Whatever Apple decides to create will either be expensive compared to the standard, or will redefine the standard to the point that it’s the only one of its kind – just like it did with the iPhone.

If Apple does create a product in this “netbook” market segment, the term netbook will no longer be a loose marketing term.  Cheap laptop and netbook will no longer by synonymous.  We won’t be able to call Apple netbook a “cheap laptop” – they don’t make those – we’ll be forced to call it a NetBook.

Update: there’s more supporting evidence that Apple will be redefining the netbook category.  Take a look at the following sites:

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One Comment

  1. ryan Robertson
    Posted April 30, 2009 at 12:21 am | Permalink

    apple uses cheap computer parts..$5 for 5 cheap screws on the computer that break all the time. my hdd crashed one year into having this computer..this is cheap!

2 Trackbacks

  1. By Apple stands for quality, not quantity | devinsblog on December 7, 2008 at 11:59 am

    […] [This article is intended to be read within the context of my other post: Apple’s NetBook release stategy | Redefining “netbook”] […]

  2. […] are numerous reasons Apple might have wanted to acquire PA Semi, including the speculation that Apple may have a netbook in the works – it is possible PA Semi could be working on that as […]

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