Netbooks have been without doubt the big winners of 2008 as an overwhelming number of laptop manufacturers have succumbed to their appeal; with the only outcasts being Panasonic and Sony.
2008 has already been a big year for Netbooks as soaring prices of raw materials means that their Bill of Material or BoM was actually low enough for manufacturers to make a profit, albeit a small one.
Then the credit crunch meant that people could actually afford a laptop, even if it is a low-specced one, for substantially less than previously; Netbooks like the Asus EEE PC 701 can be purchased for only £155.
By 2010, Gartner reckons that more than 50 million of them will be sold with more than 25 million in 2008 and 2009 alone according to research firm IDC.
Netbooks are widely defined as a laptop with a 10-inch or less screen and costing less than £300 (also some like Samsung's NC10 cost more than that) but 2009 will certainly see new strands of Netbooks emerging.
Observers are expecting touchscreen netbooks, akin of a giant iPhone, to be launched at the forthcoming CES expo with Netbook pioneer Asus strongly rumoured to be the one starting the trend.
These netbooks will almost certainly be more expensive than their predecessors and are set to compete with more expensive £1000+ laptops and tablets that still occupy the top end of the market.
Another trend that is very likely to appear will be the introduction of Android as a Netbook platform. Google's solution is a welcomed one which dovetails nicely with the concept that a Netbook should be connected to the cloud.
This is emphasised by the fact that a Netbook is in effect a thin client with a screen and wireless connection; like Network Computers, they originally had little processing power, just enough memory and hard disk capacity.
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We're pinning our hopes for even more powerful netbooks. At this point, what is needed is more competition. Most netbooks are based on the same Intel architecture and are mere clones. AMD with its Yukon/Congo technology, VIA's Nano and other manufacturers (ARM, Qualcomm, Imagination Technologies etc) should challenge Intel in 2009.
World Netbook Forum
(Netbook World Summit)
(Mobile Computing News)