Last week headlines were screaming the death of Netbooks; the small, cheap laptops that were the Pokémon cards of the 2000s tech world; because the two biggest makers Acer and Asus are stopping production. Many wrote the device died because of tablets (re: iPad). Now I have not come hear to praise Netbooks nor to bury them, just to put them into perspective.
While it seems that many in the technology space thought of Netbooks as this separate category from laptops and desktops; that the netbook was the future of the PC, the rest of us thought of them as small, cheap laptops.If you asked anyone what a Netbook was they would have said a laptop. People bought them because they looked like little laptops and they were cheap. I think few separated them from mainstream laptops.
I think the Netbook is an interesting example of how the consumer technology sector (and pundits in particular) tend to look at any new thing and proclaim it as this radical new change. Literally taking niche products and crowning them the new king.
We all do it and sometimes the niche does replace the current market champion. The problem comes when we create imaginary new markets out something that isn’t there. The fact is the tablet and and phone markets are maturing and moving these devices to meet the myriad of user needs. Pundits have been taking this trend and declaring new markets when all it is is are maturing markets.
(Okay maybe I should re title this why “Phablet” is the stupidest word on earth)
Case in point is the notion of a Phablet. A Phablet is a phone that is between 5 inches to 7 inches (falling between the traditional line of tablet and Smartphone). Now the term has been coined to signify that the device is too big to be a phone but too small to be a tablet. It was first coined when Samsung released the Galaxy and Note series of phones.
Pundits like to talk of Phablets as these devices that are this whole new type of device; some new mythical unicorn you can put in your pocket. Now in any other time we would call these devices what they are, Big Ass Phones, because that is what they are. The fact we are using Smartphones like the pocket computers they are is evolving the devices to meet that need. Simple
Now the other “new” market is the 7 inch tablet. it was said to have been birthed on Mount Amazon and called the Kindle Fire. Others say it was born in the 7th Nexus of Google. Still many believe it became a reality when Apple looked up and said, “I’ll name you iPad Mini”. The reality is tablets are maturing to meet the needs of people who want the benefits of a tablet but in a more mobile form factor. And if CES is an indication, the want of a few for tablets whit much bigger screens could get soon satiated with 20-27 inch tablets.
All I’m saying is that what is happening is the market for touch devices is maturing and demarcating to meet the needs of a growing and diverse market. Not making a bunch of little ones so some can make a stupid name.
PS instead of hybrids and convertibles can we all just call the new Windows devices Tablet PCs PLEASE!