TNS’s Mark Hobart has written a piece for Computer Weeklypiece for Computer Weekly that contends the netbook will disappear, squeezed between smarter smartphones and shrinking notebooks.
I think he’s got it wrong.
I’ve got a Nokia N95 and an Asus 701 eeePC that runs Linux. The Nokia is great for phone calls, for recording podcasts, and for taking snaps and videos. The Asus is great for reporting on the move, for getting onto the web, and for editing hi-res images from my Canon G9. It’s also pretty good with Skype phone calls. Together they are dynamite.
What’s more I pick up the costs myself. This is because my boss offers me the same functionality via a spine-twisting lump of iron called a Dell portable, a battered tri-band Nokia that didn’t work in the US last time I tried, a bulky box called a Marantz digital voice recorder, and finally another bulk box that contains a Sony digital video camera. Hannibal crossed the Alps with less kit than me on assignment.
So I sacrifice some image quality, which isn’t readily noticable on the web, for weight and convenience. But the advantge I get, as a professional journalist, is so great that I don’t mind picking up the tab. And it’s not like I’m that well-paid. So far my boss hasn’t complained either, although he does sometimes look a little embarrassed.
But all this only makes Mark’s real but unstated point: that end users can now afford to buy a lot or even more than the functionality that their employers need. This has big implications for the employers as well as equipment makers.
Churchill said, Give us the tools, and we will finish the job. But I doubt I’m going to get anytime soon a device with a 12MP still/video camera with network access that allows me to touchtype and still fits in my pocket.