Don't agree with the premise so the conclusion doesn't work

Story: 5 Reasons Chromebooks Win After Linux Netbooks LostTotal Replies: 14
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Jan 31, 2013
11:04 AM EDT
First, I'm not sure Linux netbooks failed at the retail level. They succeeded enormously well for about three years. They died not because of a lack of standards or any other reason the author cites. Rather, they slowly died on the vine because the vendors agreed to hardware limitations in order to get cheap Windows licenses which they thought would boost sales. The net result was that netbooks couldn't advance with changes in technology. They were stuck in the past. Nobody wants what by now is five or six year old tech.

Similarly, Chromebooks are succeeding not because they are all standardized. They are succeeding because they are priced lower than just about anything else and they deliver a decent user experience, just like netbooks did when they were shiny and new. Linux isn't the issue in either the success or failure of either product type.

The VAR Guy often has some very good market insights. This article is an exception: the analysis completely misses the mark and falls into the old "choice is a bad thing" trap.

Jan 31, 2013
12:40 PM EDT
Computer devices don't die, they just morph to something else or become a device for a very small niche market. Device Morphing is possible and keeps happening because technology keeps changing and constantly improving.

The reason they morph is simply because no one single device can do all things for all users. That is the reason why we see an attempt on getting the magic device where it can dynamically change from one hardware form factor to another and the software that can support such a device.

The strong arm of MS gave Netbooks producers an offer they couldn't refuse and consequently Netbooks lost their unique attractive advantages. So producers went along and produced Ultrabooks to satisfy MS demands but looked for a different device where MS can't come up with similar offer.

Netbooks are no exception. They morphed to ChromeBooks and tablets type of devices.

The majority of such devices are driven by Linux because of its versatility and adaptability. It is true that Linux didn't make a major headway on the desktop, but it sure is doing fine on all other devices. Linux didn't win the desktop battle, but it is winning the war for all other devices. The case of reviving the PC the way MS wants it is a hopeless case.


Jan 31, 2013
12:45 PM EDT
I'm afraid I have to agree with the Var Guy with regard to Linux netbooks.

I had a friend ditch a Linux netbook for Windows for reasons very much like those described in the blog. Linux netbooks were fine, and more than a few were sold, but... Windows netbooks zapped them in part, "bigger, better, bolder" zapped them in part. As netbooks looked more and more like shrunken notebooks, the price differential started going away. Lots of people who didn't quite grok the benefits of small size, light weight, and long batter life did the old "bigger is better" and said, "Gee -- for another 50 bucks..."

Jan 31, 2013
1:20 PM EDT
As usual, I disagree. (but I'm consistent!)

The Chromebooks are succeeding precisely for the reason you dismiss. Price is neither barrier nor carrot. Apple proved that 30 yrs ago. No, it's that CBs not only offer, --nor require!-- any choice, they require no effort. Brain dead easy and requiring zero knowledge on the part of the user. So much so, it matters not what is happening behind the interface/facade. Not to worry what content is being pushed at the user or that Google is data-mining every move you make and breath you take. It's easy! Jes like Apple, pay any price, lose any choice, as long as I don't hafta think, move, choose, or otherwise expend any effort whatsoever. Ppl are basically lazy and stupid. It works for Apple, why not Google. Even uprevs are handled by momma Google. Google may have out-Appled Apple in that respect.

Gotta weigh the income streams, though. It was the endless, yet rapid, upgrades that Stevie milked so brilliantly. 'Give me your money and I will relieve you of any requirement other than loyalty and reward you with a life of ease and prestige!' Google, OTOH, needs not the rube's rubles. It will sell all that freely mined data to a multitude of slavering grasping marketers at obscene prices, who will fight to pay it. Whattheheck, give the damn things away! Brilliant!! ;)

Jan 31, 2013
1:31 PM EDT
@dinotrac: The netbook form factor has been around since 1995 when Toshiba introduced the Libretto 20CT. There always is a market for small. What was different between late 2007 and 2010 is that small became cool. Now it's back to being the niche market it always was. As far as a friend ditching Windows for Linux, changing OS always requires a learning curve and some people aren't patient enough or willing to go through that. Chromebooks are no different in that respect. They still aren't what Windows users are used to. One anecdotal example, while undoubtedly described accurately, doesn't make for a general rule.

I still love my netbook. Typing on a tablet is a pain, most of the add-on Bluetooth keyboards aren't nearly as good as the one in my HP Mini 110. Also, anything bigger than my netbook doesn't cut it on today's sardine can sized airplanes with extra tiny seats. I'm 5' 2" tall and even I feel cramped at times. It's almost comical watching people bring a full sized notebook onto a plane like that and then trying to find a way to work without invading the neighboring passengers' space.

I still believe that if someone came up with a netbook with significantly more horsepower than Microsoft would permit and preloaded it with a user friendly Linux distro (i.e.: Mint, Mageia, ROSA, Pardus-Anka, etc...) it would sell well. No, it wouldn't sell like hotcakes the way netbooks did in 2008, but well enough for a vendor to carry the product and for it to be profitable I would think.

Jan 31, 2013
1:35 PM EDT
@notbob: That wouldn't account for the period when netbooks sold like proverbial hotcakes. They never were easier than a standard laptop. They were small and cute and inexpensive. I'm not saying you're wrong about Chromebooks. I think there may be more than one factor at work here. I wouldn't dismiss the power of pricing and marketing and making a product look compelling.

BTW, I may eventually pick up a Chromebook, but I'll load the image OpenSUSE has come up with for them :) No Google, no data mining.

Jan 31, 2013
3:54 PM EDT
@caitlyn -

It had less to do with learning curve and more to do with difficulty of doing things he wanted to do. For example, he could plug his phone into his Windows box to hot spot. Couldn't do that with the Linux box. Now -- there were things that could be downloaded and configured to do that, but it was beyond his expertise, his time, and his patience. He used the netbook as a business tool and became quite concerned (not altogether unreasonably) that it would cost him more money over the long-term.

Jan 31, 2013
4:24 PM EDT
Quoting:it was beyond his expertise, his time, and his patience.
That I completely believe. I've seen it before. People don't know something, it isn't obvious how to resolve the issue to them, so they give up and go with what they know even if what they know is a poorer solution. If, OTOH, you had been able to set it up for him nicely then that would have been a non-issue, right? That difficulty, as you describe it, is definitely a learning curve, or rather a refusal to learn. It's a conscious decision that taking the time to learn wasn't worth his while. Essentially we're saying the same thing in different ways.

Jan 31, 2013
7:30 PM EDT
There's some truth to netbooks being sold at an attractive price point. I got mine fer $190, no doubt cuz it was the last XP version on an eee. Also, it's much more robust than I would have ever suspected. A few nights ago, I spilled a pint of beer on mine. The very sticky IPA literally poured out of the keyboard. I figured, what I got to lose, yanked the battery and held it under the water tap to flush the beer, then set it upside down in the dish drainer to air dry. Today, charged it up and turned it on. Seems to be working fine. Amazing. ;)


Jan 31, 2013
10:19 PM EDT
Quoting: The strong arm of MS gave Netbooks producers an offer they couldn't refuse and consequently Netbooks lost their unique attractive advantages. So producers went along and produced Ultrabooks to satisfy MS demands but looked for a different device where MS can't come up with similar offer.

Intel also participated in the strong-arming. It was shameless:

MS and Intel made it explicit: "You can't offer a "large" (more than 10.1 inches) screen. Nor can you offer a "large" harddrive... more RAM than we like, etc, etc. MS allowed XP for those who insisted on a small, convenient-sized netbook (and this also supported the line that netbooks were too "under-powered" for regular uses). OEMs that didn't comply faced discriminatory pricing and "informal" penalties like slower, less reliable component delivery. Too bad for what the customers were asking for.

Perhaps the clearest sign of the power of Wintel disapproval was when a large British chain couldn't get new Linux EeePC 901s in stock, because they still had the Windows model in stock, and Asus was "committed" to supplying Windows and Linux versions in equal numbers (while officially blaming the shortage on a shortage of atom processors).


Feb 01, 2013
5:24 AM EDT
I still haven't worked out what a tablet gives you that is better than a netbook. I have an acer aspire one d255 netbook and it is running bodhi linux. I like the keyboard. There are loads of things you need a keyboard for and I don't like how on tablets to use an onscreen keyboard you lose half the screen to display it.

For me tablets are about entertainment and that is it. You can't really do anything with them. For me the tablet is a device to browse the internet (although not as well as with a laptop/netbook), watch youtube videos and play games.

A netbook offers a mini computing experience. You can do everything on a netbook that you can with laptops and even desktops. (Within the boundaries of the processing power of course).


Feb 01, 2013
12:36 PM EDT
Quoting:I still haven't worked out what a tablet gives you that is better than a netbook.

Better mobility and handling on the go for entertainment and light work. They are ideal for light data entry and consumption, like Warehouse work, Doctor's office, etc.

Quoting:For me tablets are about entertainment and that is it.

That is mostly true but they also can be used to do some business related work. May be not at their current state due to lack of office applications, but those are coming soon (See Vivaldi & Here) and when applications are web based.

Besides, tablets are more versatile since there is no reason why a tablet can't be converted to a Netbook with right peripherals attached.


Feb 01, 2013
2:26 PM EDT

>> A netbook offers a mini computing experience. You can do everything on a netbook that you can with laptops and even desktops. (Within the boundaries of the processing power of course).

Same exact thing goes for me too. Although I'm counterintuitively hoping that the masses will really start taking up Chromebooks/tablets, and then unload their good netbooks SUPER-cheaply!


Feb 01, 2013
3:09 PM EDT
I figure that tablets are great (much better than laptops or even netbooks) on the bus/train/daily commute, and in a crowded coffee shop, etc.

Which is why those are venues where I still read books, magazines and newspapers.

Feb 01, 2013
3:31 PM EDT
I've got to say, I was resistant to the whole tablet thing, but I did get one -- an iPad. "Won" it in a contest.

For casual reading, its nice. It runs in "always on" mode. You hit the button and it's ready. The portability is a plus.

You want to look at news on the web, look at a web site, it's great. It's OK for the casual reply in forums like this. But if you want to do anything complicated in terms of writing, it doesn't work. It's also awful for video. It doesn't cache enough and as a result is always stopping. I'd rather wait for it to cache and then watch than start watching and have it stop.

But as a content-consumption device, it's pretty handy.

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