It has been said that the size of their mobile is the only thing that men are modest about. Well, perhaps not any more. “My PC has less than yours” could be the next in one-upmanship.
Last year, the best sellers in the world of notebook and sub-notebook portable computers were appliances that back in the 1990s would have been called ‘network computers’. They failed miserably then, but not this time.
These low-pain toys are paperback-sized laptop PCs with no hard drive, no Windows or Office (they do have Linux and Open Office) that boot up in seconds. They have instant internet access and connectivity with zero fuss. So good, and eminently desirable, they should have been designed by Apple.
HP’s Mini-Note II and ASUS’s EeePC 979 and their clones, have created a new market that was flooded by more than 50 companies last year.
Profit margins on these models are tiny and they are sold by retail outlets, including Toys ‘R’ Us, not computer stores. HP’s Retail Corp has been modeled on a mall-based franchise.
Notable absentees are Apple, Dell, IBM and Lenovo – perhaps all of them too tied to the old computing paradigm – or high profit margins. If you can believe the corporate spin, these companies are backing a new ‘No PCs’ world where they will provide the computing and networking infrastructure to cities and large companies that everyone can use via their mobile phones – but that’s years off yet.
Google, as usual, runs on whichever platform you choose – even the iPhone.