Reminder: The iPhone Is Netbook Enough for Apple

Steve Jobs himself said it, so why would we believe analysts?

  iPhone + Netbook mockup
Almost all signs point to No-Apple-Netbook this year, yet some still cling to the idea that Apple is surely building such a device and preparing to release it soon. Most, however, believe Apple's next bet is a new iPhone, as the device has proven to be quite the tool to surf the web, and much, much more.

Surely, a real netbook offers a better (Internet) experience, as it is not limited by a virtual keyboard, lacking essential keys. Also, without some proper copy-paste functionality, a larger screen and more wireless freedom, the iPhone is a tad less attractive than the Internet-savvy systems offered by the likes of Dell and HP. However, there's tons of extra stuff to be had with the iPhone / iPod touch as well, such as thousands of cool apps and enhanced portability, not to mention the looks. These are the reasons (and probably not only these, but many others as well) why Apple would continue to advertise the iPhone as a great tool to surf the web with, thus passing on making its own version of one of the industry's hottest portables at the moment.

Review image
Some believe this is the closest Apple will get to tapping into the netbook userbase – after all, the company doesn't want to lose any faithful iPhone fans either.
Credits: created by Mat Brady, edited by Jesus Diaz (Gizmodo) –
original picture contains more iPhone concepts

All this doesn't make too much sense to Amtech analyst Brian Marshall, who believes Apple will indeed release a netbook later this year. The analyst claims that “despite management’s commentary and investor concerns regarding cannibalization of high-end offerings,” Apple is likely to offer a netbook/tablet product later this year, according to a Barron's report. The analyst upholds that continued expansion of the company’s addressable market is “crucial,” asserting that “the company must” maintain share growth to increase future EPS and “will have to compete in netbooks.” All this being said, not many analysts chime in with Mr. Marshall, but that doesn't mean he's the only analyst who trusts Apple will cough up a netbook this year.

Research firm ChangeWave claims that demand for netbooks remains strong in a recently released bulletin. According to Changewave, “[Netbooks] are one of the few beneficiaries of this tough spending environment. The latest results reinforce this finding ... Among respondents who have bought a laptop in the past 90 days, 17% say it was a Netbook – better than one in every six laptops purchased during this time period,” Changewave figures have shown. “Looking ahead, 18% say the laptop they plan on buying in the next 90 days will be a Netbook – which is 4-pts higher than in January,” reads the PDF report.

However, the same research firm also notes that, while Acer, ASUS, Hewlett-Packard and Dell are the only ones leading the Netbook market, Apple may have indirectly tapped that market with its iPhone.

“While Apple has shown little interest in pursuing this market to date, we note that some Apple users consider the iPhone to be a form of Netbook,” ChangeWave asserts. We're certainly inclined to go by this theory for now.

But, what could be a better indication that Apple isn't planning to make what the industry calls “netbooks” if not the company's CEO himself denying it was working on it? During a Q&A with the media last year, Steve Jobs asserted that the company already participates in the netbook category, pointing out to the iPhone and iPod touch as devices that have much of the same functionality as the lightweight, low-cost portable computer systems known as “netbooks.”

"We choose to be in certain segments of the market, and we choose not to be in certain segments of the market," Jobs said during a conference call with Wall Street analysts in October last year. Responding to a question about whether and when Apple would enter the netbook market, Jobs said that Apple would continue to add features to its notebooks as it dropped prices, but that it was unwilling to play in the netbook category as it is currently defined.

"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk, and our DNA will not let us ship that," Jobs said. "But we can continue to deliver greater and greater value to those customers that we choose to serve, and there's a lot of them. And we've seen great success by focusing on certain segments of the market and not trying to be everything to everybody."

So, even if the Amtech analyst is right, we doubt Apple will confirm all his expectations as to what the device will pack in terms of features and hardware. In fact, we bet that, should Apple release a netbook, it will be 70 percent iPhone / iPod touch, 30 percent some form of a small MacBook, and 100 percent Apple!

We encourage you to express your own opinions using the comments.

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By    26 Feb 2009, 13:48 GMT