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Dell Kills Mini 12 Netbooks? Beware Of Smartbooks!

Computer manufacturer Dell announced yesterday that it is retiring the popular Mini 12 netbook because it claims that for a lot of customers, 10-inch displays are the sweet spot for the netbook category.

Instead, Dell is expected to reintroduced its 9-inch netbook range, the Mini 9. Dell UK has already discontinued its 12-inch netbook (opens in new tab) since the beginning of June. Other 12-inch notebooks like the gorgeous Dell Vostro 1220 or the Latitude XT Tablet PC are still available but at a much steeper price.

Michael Arrington of Techcrunch (opens in new tab) posits that the real reason why Dell discontinued the 12-inch Netbooks is because these devices are seriously encroaching on more expensive (and higher margin) products.

Using a carrot-and-stick approach, Intel priced Atom processors differently depending on whether manufacturers would put them in 10-inch netbooks or 12-inch netbooks, with a higher price tag attached to the latter.

Dell is also keen to sell more expensive, bigger screen laptops rather than a lower priced 12-inch netbook. This is why the Austin-based manufacturer is keen to keep a big screen gap between notebook (stuck at 10-inch) and laptops (starting at 13-inch) at least in the consumer section.

To make things more complicated, some Netbook manufacturers, including Asus, are known to be preparing devices that would use Qualcomm Snapdragon-based platform instead of Intel and Android (or Linux) rather than Microsoft.

This would mean bigger screens as well as cheaper netbook equivalents with many more features. Smartbooks are expected to sport TV Tuner, native UMTS and GPS support as well as accelerometer and touchscreen capability at launch.

Désiré Athow
Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.