Netbooks: The new species
The convergence of personal computing and mobile communications is a near reality as different companies use different platforms to marry these services together. The driving force today is the internet”ization” of business, economy and life as a whole. This creates exciting opportunities in the market today in terms of innovation, platform building, product development and the development of the single window of access to the digital world. It is widely believed in the technology space that most of the first time users in the developing states will experience Internet for the first time on their mobiles.
With that background, one can see the technology war heating up in the internet access device space. On one side you have the mobile technology players: Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Motorola who are migrating mobile usage from a talk/SMS centred one to a complete internet experience. On the other hand you have computer majors such as Apple, Acer, Dell who are venturing into the smartphone space. There is a niche of eco-system players like Google and Microsoft who are owning up the content eco-system in a very unique way by leveraging services. Software and Services is another platform which companies such as Apple, Google, Nokia, RIM and Palm are focussing their strategies upon to create stickiness!
The Hardware/Services Evolution
Presently the communication and computing spectrum is split under the Lap Tops and Smartphone space. Going forward it is unlikely that either of these devices is going to be out moded completely. Both have their own utility and it is unlikely that any new device would radically substitute them or take their space completely! There will be stages of evolution on the Lap Top and Smartphone eco-systems as technology would evolve.
However, we would also see the evolution of Netbooks, a fusion between Lap tops and Smartphone providing the Internet solution on the go. The change into the 3G/4G technology and the advent of Cloud Computing and other services: SaaS, PaaS would enable this evolution. The Netbook would be an improvement over the smartphone in terms of its internet and software capabilities, screen and convenience, but wouldnot provide the whole host of features that the lap top would provide. Essentially it would be lesser than Lap Tops on memory and its primary use would be to access the internet. Apart from its memory capacity, it would use the cloud as its hard drive. Thus the three categories of internet devices would be so positioned:
Smartphone: Internet enabled voice communication devices. It would offer Social Networking, Navigation as value adds to its basket of services. It would essentially be based on Portability.
Lap Tops: The full monty on computing with data storage, internet access etc.
NetBooks: The internet device per se which would bridge the Smartphone and Lap Top capabilities.
The following table depicts the growth rates expected in the Lap Top versus Netbook across the world.
Whether the Netbook will replace the Lap Top or not will depend upon these three factors:
1. 3G/4G data evolution providing fast computing
2. Advent of Cloud Computing and the ability to use the internet as a enabler and dump for all software services
3. Security perceptions and concerns about data in the internet