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Is this the beginning of an Apple Netbook? 7 January, 2009

Posted by Jay Ball in Uncategorized.
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a-netbookNetbooks are big news just now – the ball that ASUS set rolling with the eeeeeeeeeeepc has swept almost all the other laptop manufacturers along with it (as well as creating a few new entrants along the way). With one notable exception – Apple.

Steve Jobs has been quoted as saying that Apple will wait and see how the market develops. In the meantime we’ve seen new 17″ MacBook Pro’s announced – which are as about as un-netbooky as it’s possible to get in a laptop. Then there are the rather lovely new external screens to go along with the rather lovely MacBook Air – both of which our very own Rod Banner has had gracing his desk in the office (ah the perks of being the Chairman).

But still, it has to be a matter of when rather than if.

To deliver a truly Apple netbook, the company would need to team up a damn-pretty, user-friendly 3G device with a way for users to work primarily online.

The device shouldn’t be a problem – although the question is whether it would look like a scaled down MacBook Air or a scaled up iPhone. Or perhaps a dual-screen clamshell offering a couple of multitouch screens that can adapt to differing uses (ok, calm down now). As a sideline, chip-maker Freescale has been reported as getting ready to ship Apple just the sort of processor such as device will run on.

The there’s the whole online experience part. Certainly, there’s plenty of options already around from Google, Adobe, Zoho etc. But then Apple simply faces the same problem as Microsoft as it kisses a chunk of software revenue goodbye. They will want to deliver a distinctively Apple experience.

So it was interesting to note in yesterday’s announcements the new version of iWork (Apple’s Office clone) which now features iWork.com, an online sharing space – although not yet offering online versions of the software. Team this up with the MobileMe platform and a new stripped down OSX (as promised by the next release Snow Leopard) and it gets more interesting. Then add a netbook App Store (similar to Linux’s Apt Get feature) and it’s pretty close to being job done.

But when? That’s the real question.

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