Speaking Of Trends, Whatever Happened To The Netbook? And The Tablet?

Apple isn’t much for following trends. Just a few years ago, the PC netbook– inexpensive and small notebooks– were all the rage. Tech pundits were quick to point out that Apple needed a Mac netbook to survive, otherwise the company was doomed. Again.

Netbooks, if you recall, were flimsy, plastic, underpowered, and remarkably small notebooks with poor screens, and were priced from $300 to $700. By contrast, the least expensive MacBook Air starts at $999.

What was the difference? Quality. Apple simple refused to make a cheap Mac (cheap by Apple standards, anyway). Instead, Apple focused, as they always do, on something different. In this case, it was the next great thing. Tablets.

The first iPad sold for $499, slightly more than the average netbook, yet, the iPad oozed substance and quality and convenience and did much of what netbooks could not.

The iPad had all day battery life, was simple to navigate, and came with plenty of useful applications. The PC netbook died of neglect. It was neglected by manufacturers and customers. Manufacturers decided the future was in ultrabooks (like a MacBook Air only running Windows).

Is it any wonder that Apple tends not to follow the trends? They don’t go anywhere. Instead of selling a cheap MacBook Air knockoff, PC manufacturers would do well to copy whatever Apple does instead.

Hey, it worked well for Samsung, as they’re the only other profitable smart phone maker.

Still, it didn’t take long for others to enter the tablet arena created by Apple (not to be confused with the gargantuan plastic slabs once called tablets by Microsoft’s Bill Gates).

Enter the Kindle Fire HD, the Google Nexus 7 and 10, Microsoft’s Surface, and various and sundry PC makers with an assortment of Frankendroid OS tablets, or Windows RT tablets.

Are these non-iPad tablets just a new version of the netbook? Just as you don’t see a netbook being toted around these days, where are all these iPad competitors? Is it a tablet market? Or, is it an iPad market?

I suspect it is more the latter than the former because other non-iPad devices don’t appear to pass the visual test (if I can see them around, they’re selling well, if not, not). Besides, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft don’t release their sales numbers, so analysts are required to guess at how many are sold to determine market share. Only Apple gives out factual numbers.

Usage reports indicate that Apple’s diminutive iPad clan makes up almost 90-percent of online usage among all tablets. It’s not a tablet market. It’s an iPad market.