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Why I like netbooks

Wednesday, October 22, 2008 by Dave Winer.

John Markoff quotes Steve Jobs. "We don't know how to build a sub-$500 computer that is not a piece of junk." Permalink to this paragraph

As with all Jobsisms, it's beautifully elegant, true -- and misleading. You have to read it very carefully. Permalink to this paragraph

He isn't saying no one knows how to build one, just that "we" don't know how to. Fine. And the last part is almost Republican it's so clever and nasty. He's not actually slamming Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Acer and MSI, but if you don't read it carefully you might think he's saying they're pieces of junk. I think he's been studying Sean Hannity. ;-> Permalink to this paragraph

A picture named roseMaryWoods.jpgNow here's what Dave Winer, Mac user, says: They are not pieces of junk. Quite the opposite, they are elegant Mac-like products, and you can be absolutely sure behind the scenes Steve is throwing tantrums at his engineers day and night extolling their virtues and telling them to hurry up cause their lunch is being eaten. This is the same guy who said people don't want video on their iPods until he had an iPod with video. Permalink to this paragraph

Jobs then said that the iPhone could be seen as Apple's netbook. Hmmm. Maybe Jobs doesn't understand what's so appealing about netbooks. I suppose it's possible. Permalink to this paragraph

Look, iPhones are not and never will be netbooks. Just like writing for the NYT is not and never will be blogging (Markoff once said the NYT was his blog).  Permalink to this paragraph

iPhones are too locked to be netbooks.  Permalink to this paragraph

OK, I suppose it's time to say what a netbook is... Permalink to this paragraph

1. Small size.  Permalink to this paragraph

2. Low price.  Permalink to this paragraph

3. Battery life of 4+ hours. Battery can be replaced by user. Atom processor seems to be a requirement, those that aren't Atom aren't selling (and are apparently being discontinued). Permalink to this paragraph

4. Rugged.  Permalink to this paragraph

5. Built-in wifi, 3 USB ports, SD card reader. It seems it must have 802.11n to be taken seriously. Permalink to this paragraph

6. Runs my software.  Permalink to this paragraph

7. Runs any software I want (no platform vendor to decide what's appropriate).  Permalink to this paragraph

8. Competition (users have choice and can switch vendors at any time). Permalink to this paragraph

As a Mac user I would very much like to see a Mac netbook. Yes, I know if I'm willing to hack, I can get Mac OS to run on one, but I have a hard enough time keeping supported hardware working.  Permalink to this paragraph

On the other hand, Windows XP/Home is not so bad as long as it doesn't get infected with malware. So far I'm happy. Permalink to this paragraph

A picture named eee.jpgWhat I am using (the most frequent question potential netbook owners ask): Asus Eee PC 901, purchased in July for $600, now sells for $440. I took it with me to the DNC and it was the only computer i used. Now when I travel, I leave the MacBook Pro at home. Too heavy, too much computer to carry. Permalink to this paragraph

I've suggested elsewhere that it might be time to have a Netbook conference. I'd be happy to participate as a host, organizer, or speaker. There's an active community of bloggers following netbooks, and it's a happy cooperative place. It feels like the early days of the Apple II or IBM PC.  Permalink to this paragraph

If Jobs is missing the excitement that would be a shame because it would be nice to have an Apple netbook, and no the iPhone is not a netbook. Not even close. Permalink to this paragraph


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A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

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