Why The iPad Is Apple's Answer To The Netbook

Ever since Asus started the netbook revolution in 2007, there have been incessant calls for Apple to launch its own super-duper, chic miniature laptop for Mac aficionados out there.

It seems that, in many way, these calls have been answered by Apple through the release of the iPad yesterday.

During the event in San Francisco, Apple's CEO, Steve Jobs, placed the iPad between a smartphone and a notebook, a category which for the past 30 months have been occupied by the Netbook.

The iPad itself is just a netbook (or rather a Smartbook) without a physical keyboard. It uses an ARM-based subsystem, comes with a minimum of 16GB Flash memory (we don't know yet the amount of RAM), a mobile phone OS rather than a desktop one and a smaller-than-ten inch screen. Even the price ($499 for 16GB with WiFi) has netbook written all over it.

Strictly speaking, Apple has not created a new category but evolved an existing one, the iPod Touch, which it described as the funnest iPod. The iPad however is also destined for "work" with the addition of iWork for iPad.

But Apple's iPad won't have a significant impact on the netbook market for a number of reason. Firstly, it doesn't have a keyboard yet; we expect a number of accessories manufacturer to come up with various peripherals to solve this issue and turn the iTablet into an iNetbook.

Then there's the price problem; as sexy as it may look, the 16GB iPad's only advantage over a more polyvalent netbook is its gorgeous screen.

If you want to be more productive, the iPad is definitely not the way forward. Finally, there's the OS, most netbooks and smartbooks will come with more functional and less restrictive platform like Android OS or Windows 7.

Our Comments

Many will say that paying $499 for something that's akin to a keyboard-less netbook is not the best way forward. But then, this is Apple and the tablet does provide us with an exciting insight of what the future of computing might be with an AOL like closed ecosystem.

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