Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Apple netbook

DigiTimes, The Inquirer, ZDNet and other outlets are reporting the latest rumors about the Apple netbook, based on leaks from its suppliers. The WSJ even claims Steve Jobs is actively shepherding the project.

Given Apple’s recent track record, I’m sure it will be cool and will probably send lots of units. But what is it? A large iPhone or small MacBook?

My inclination is that it will be a large iPhone. I had already suspected that because Apple hates to cannibalize itself — so selling an expensive iPhone will not steal business from the $1000-2000 MacBook line.

There is also the fact that with the iPhone App Store, after 30 years Steve Jobs finally controls the ISV distribution channel. Plus this puts Apple at the front of the migration of smartphones to be true laptop replacements, rather than late to the cheap sub-notebook party.

The clincher for me is the rumor reported by The Inquirer

Whispers suggest Apple will attempt to market the device as a portable gadget for reading e-books, connecting to the Interwarble and watching films.
The iPhone reads Kindle e-books and the MacBook doesn’t. Q.E.D.

Perhaps the big question is: unlike the iPhone, will it run Flash? If there were a new GHz-caliber processor — such as the latest Marvel XScale update — it would give Apple an excuse to back down from its previous stand.

The same arguments could apply to whether it will run Java. Steve Jobs historically was a good friend of Larry Ellison, so perhaps if Oracle finally does buy Sun (no deal is certain until it’s concluded) Steve will embrace Larry’s cup o’ Joe.

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