Greg's bite: The demise of the netbook?
TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Greg's bite: The demise of the netbook?

By Greg Mills

I remember the day I bought my MacBook 100 computer. I paid a thousand dollars for it and was amazed that Apple packed all that power into such a small package with a keen black and white flat screen display.  

I was also using my trusty Mac Classic computer -- and going portable was awesome. I lived aboard my yacht in Newport Beach, California, at the time and 110 volts was common via an inverter running off eight 12-volt deep cycle batteries charged by solar panels. The new laptop was easy to charge and not so hard on my power supply. While both of those ancient computers are a joke by today's standards, I was able to do a lot with them.   

In comparison, I bought a new MacBook Pro for $999 just a week ago. The speed, display, memory and chip speed improvements made over the intervening 20 years is dramatic, to say the least. People want the most they can get for their money and incremental improvements add up over time, as prices drop for all that advanced technology.  

Form factors are a big part of what changes in computing devices. While desktop computers still offer a significant market for computing in a fixed location, so many of us are on the move that the "mobile computing" bug has bitten us hard. I find it amazing that I was ever satisfied with a desktop computer as my main computer, now that I am used to my MacBook Pro.  I still have to choose sometimes which device to check an incoming email with: iPhone, iPad or MacBook Pro.  The ding, dong, ding that rings three times when an email comes in, seems to load first with iPad or iPhone, with the MacBook Pro coming in last.

Wireless connections allow me print over the house Wi-Fi, which cleared my desk to a limited extent, as junk is attracted to my desktop like a magnet. The transitory form of a netbook is being replaced by the slate computer format very quickly.  Touch screens have made the hinged mechanical keyboard sort of an option we find we can do without. When Apple set the price point for the "magical" iPad at US$500 for the entry level, a subsonic "oh no" reverberated from Redmond where Microsoft killed their slate computer within days of actually getting an iPad in hand, for a comparison to what they had under development.

Had Apple played the high dollar approach and matched netback prices with iPad, it would have taken off, but not like it did. Standalone GPS devices, netbooks and other mobile devices were suddenly compared to the iPad, which could do everything well in comparison to one-item solutions. Apple's trump card is that software updates continue to improve already-sold hardware, often at no cost. How do you compete with that?  

The competition gets it, and now actual iPadish devices from other vendors are on the way. The problems they have to overcome are considerable. Apple is hogging the display market and buying up large color touch screens as fast as manufacturers can pump them out. Flash memory is spoken for months or years in advance by Apple. With a year's headstart catching up to Apple's iOS is no small matter.  

Microsoft frittering away the time while Apple surges has left its normal hardware "partners" adrift without a tablet OS that matters. In addition to all that, it takes a lot to make a profit anywhere near Apple's price points. Why fight Apple when there isn't any profit left after building a comparable touch screen slate computer?  

Some slate computer solutions are in the works that will come out next year.  Despite not matching Apple's aggressive price points, RIM is launching a tablet that they hope will find a home in business. Google is ramping up its Chrome NetBook platform and getting Android up to speed on larger screen devices. 

In an interesting turn of events, RIM is overcoming its lack of apps by allowing its new state computer, the "PlayBook" to run Android Apps. Since Microsoft has completely dropped the ball, Google has picked it up and is running with it. Microsoft recently launched Vista 7 mobile operating system isn't happening for slate computers; in fact it is really not happening for smart phones either, if early sales numbers are a valid forecast of future success.

The Microsoft Windows Stuxnet worm continues to plunge Iran's nuclear weapons program into chaos. Window computers associated with the plutonium refinement and nuclear reactor seem to be the only ones where the worm does its dirty work. It stays inactive unless it finds the right flavor of conditions that are exclusive to Iranian nuclear sites. They are suffering repeated PC reinfections and incomplete disinfection, which continues to make expensive equipment fail at alarming rates. The new reactor hasn't come on-line as the Iranians are very concerned it will blow up in their face if they do turn it on. It is certain a trick of the Windows Stuxnet worm is to fool with the turbine speed in the new Iranian reactor.  

Iranian computer experts are disappearing or being killed by agents of a foreign powers. Some tortured soul uttered the words "CIA, MI6 and Mossad" under the Iranian heated interrogation techniques (that require a propane blow torch). Now, armed with "confirmation" of their suspicions, they have threatened to retaliate and the three countries named have stepped up protection for their own logical targets.  

Iran is so clueless they don't know what to do. The web sites that have information on how to purge computers of Stuxnet have been overwhelmed by masked inquiries that have been found to have originated in Iran. One major web site had over 60% of its inquiries coming from Iran. The Russians who fled Iran are not willing to come back, fearing interrogation by the Iranians.

In another worrisome note, Saudi Arabia has made an end run around the entire nuclear proliferation process and simply purchased two nuclear bombs from Pakistan. The US has objected -- but not too loudly -- as we don't want to offend our Arab friends.  The Saudis fear the Iranian bomb almost as much as the Israelis do.  

The US military recently banned thumb drives and other recordable media that could infect their systems with worms, having seen how devastated Iran's military infrastructure is due to the Windows Stuxnet worm. Having been burned recently by low level traitors, they are now also reducing computer access to state secrets.

MakerBot has introduced an affordable 3D printer for making solid prototypes and actual 3D plastic parts. The notion with common "printers" is that we can hook up our computers with a USB cord, load paper into the device and print 2D on paper in color or black and white. The notion of a 3D printer is that a 3D computer "model" can be created as a 3D file, the computer is connected with a USB cord to a MakerBot 3D printer and an actual physical model of a solid object can be created. This is called rapid prototyping and is used in developing inventions and refining plastic parts.

Imagine having a chess set piece in your computer as a file, hooking up your computer to a 3D printer and in a few minutes an actual chess part made of plastic is "printed" one layer at a time.  Sort of a primitive StarTrek "replicator," if you will. Then consider that the files that run the MakerBot 3D printer can be downloaded over the Internet. 3D part files can be traded or sold over the Internet to create plastic parts, much as apps or other content are sold now

The price point of the new 3D Printers is at $999.  See http://support.makerbot.com/home .  The device its self is open source, so if you are so inclined, you can build your own 3D printer from exact plans on-line. The software is also open source and will run on a Mac. I will write more on this in the future, but MakerBot reminds me a lot of a computer company started in a garage some years ago.

That's Greg's bite for today.

(Greg Mills, is a Faux Artist in Kansas City. Formerly a new product R&D man for the paint sundry market, he holds 11 US patents. He's working on a solar energy startup, www.CottageIndustrySolar.com using a patent pending process of turning waste dual pane glass into thermal solar panels used to heat water. Greg writes for intellectual web sites and Mac related issues. See Greg's art web site at www.gregmills.info ; his email is gregmills@mac.com )

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Skateboard Party 3 ft. Greg Lutzka (Gam...
Skateboard Party 3 ft. Greg Lutzka 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Skateboard Party is back! This third edition of the popular sports franchise features professional skater... | Read more »
Cubious (Games)
Cubious 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Cubious – How smart are you? How high is your IQube? Solve the impossible puzzles to find out, and help a lost little cube find his... | Read more »
Goat Simulator Waste of Space (Games)
Goat Simulator Waste of Space 1.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.1 (iTunes) Description: ** IMPORTANT - SUPPORTED DEVICESiPhone 4S, iPad 2, iPod Touch 5 or better.** | Read more »
Wildfulness - Unwind in nature and calm...
Wildfulness - Unwind in nature and calm your mind with nature sounds and illustrations 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Healthcare & Fitness Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Spending time in nature helps you to... | Read more »
Dr. Panda Racers (Education)
Dr. Panda Racers 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Education Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: STEP ON THE GAS, RACE AND WIN!Fasten your seat belts and get ready to race! Speed your way to the finish line while doing... | Read more »
ROMANCING SAGA 2 (Games)
ROMANCING SAGA 2 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $17.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Romancing SaGa 2, originally released only in Japan in 1993, has been completely remastered and now receives its first... | Read more »
WRIO Keyboard (Utilities)
WRIO Keyboard 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Utilities Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: 40% OFF DURING LIMITED INTRODUCTORY OFFER | Read more »
Hatoful Boyfriend (Games)
Hatoful Boyfriend 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: The hit PC game that everybirdie loves has now migrated to your mobile device! Now you are free to explore the wonders of St... | Read more »
Warp Shift (Games)
Warp Shift 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: [ CHECK YOUR HARDWARE: Warp Shift does NOT run on iPhone 4, iPad 1 and iPod touch 4G or older devices! It requires at least iOS8... | Read more »
Lifeline: Whiteout (Games)
Lifeline: Whiteout 1.0.2 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.2 (iTunes) Description: Alone in a frozen wasteland with no memory of how he got there, a lost adventurer’s only hope is his last line of... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Goal Zero and OtterBox Partner to Expand iPh...
Goal Zero, specialists in portable power, have announced a partnership with OtterBox, brand smartphone case protection, to offer the Slide and Slide Plus Batteries as modules compatible with the new... Read more
15-inch Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to...
B&H Photo has 15″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $210 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY tax only: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $1799 $200 off MSRP - 15″ 2.5GHz Retina... Read more
Clearance 2015 13-inch MacBook Airs available...
B&H Photo has clearance 2015 13″ MacBook Airs available for $250 off original MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 1.6GHz/4GB/128GB MacBook Air (MJVE2LL/A): $799... Read more
Apple refurbished Apple TVs available for up...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 32GB and 64GB Apple TVs available for up to $30 off the cost of new models. Apple’s standard one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: -... Read more
21-inch iMacs on sale for up to $120 off MSRP
B&H Photo has 21″ iMacs on sale for up to $120 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 21″ 3.1GHz iMac 4K: $1379.99 $120 off MSRP - 21″ 2.8GHz iMac: $1189 $110 off MSRP - 21″ 1... Read more
Kanex Introduces GoPower USB-C Rechargeable B...
Kanex has announced its GoPower USB-C portable battery for the USB-C MacBook, featuring the new industry standard connector and cable used for connectivity and power. Providing users with a new... Read more
Convertible and Detachable Devices Winning Ov...
According to the latest figures published by International Data Corporation (IDC), Western European shipments of ultraslim convertibles and detachables posted positive growth (44.7%) to account for... Read more
New MacBook Pros And Will MacBook Air Be Upgr...
With my mid-2013 13-inch MacBook Air closing on its third anniversary come November, I’m in system upgrade mode. Actually the Haswell CPU equipped Air is still doing a fine job, but my good wife is... Read more
Apple’s Education discount saves up to $300 o...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad using Apple’s Education Store and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free, and... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $999,...
B&H Photo has the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $999 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more

Jobs Board

Editor, *Apple* News - APPLE (United States...
Job Summary The Apple News team is looking for a passionate and knowledgeable editor with experience covering entertainment/pop culture and experience running social Read more
*Apple* Nissan Service Technicians - Apple A...
Apple Automotive is one of the fastest growing dealer...and it shows. Consider making the switch to the Apple Automotive Group today! At Apple Automotive , Read more
ISCS *Apple* ID Site Support Engineer - APP...
…position, we are looking for an individual who has experience supporting customers with Apple ID issues and enjoys this area of support. This person should be Read more
Automotive Sales Consultant - Apple Ford Linc...
…you. The best candidates are smart, technologically savvy and are customer focused. Apple Ford Lincoln Apple Valley is different, because: $30,000 annual salary Read more
*Apple* Support Technician II - Worldventure...
…global, fast growing member based travel company, is currently sourcing for an Apple Support Technician II to be based in our Plano headquarters. WorldVentures is Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.