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Intel Exec: Netbooks "Fine For An Hour"


Intel Exec: Netbooks "Fine For An Hour"

It would seems reasonable to expect that, as Vice President of Intel's Sales and Marketing Group, Stu Penn, would be a big backer of the netbook form factor - sporting, as almost all of them do, Intel CPUs. However, speaking at a (otherwise amazingly dull) Raymond James IT Supply Chain Conference, Penn made some interesting statements about the netbook market at seen by Intel; slightly downplaying its consequence in the grand scheme of things.

The most interesting quote is Penn's comment that: "If you've ever used a Netbook and used a 10-inch screen size, it's fine for an hour. It's not something you're going to use day in and day out." That echoes my own sentiments, but sits in contrast to the views of many (including quite a few members of the TR staff) who would be or even are quite content using netbooks day-to-day.

Penn also suggested that not only is the netbook market larger than was initially thought likely, it is also comprised of a different audience to Intel's expectations, saying: "We originally thought Netbooks would be for emerging markets and younger kids, and there is some of that. It turns out the bulk of the Netbooks sold today are Western Europe, North America, and for people who just want to grab and go with a notebook."

Penn also downplayed the significance of the netbook market, to Intel at least, saying :"We view the Netbook as mostly incremental to our total available market." That seems fair enough. Even though a lot of netbooks are being sold, Intel is hardly charging a fortune for the chips used therein - the entire point of Atom is to be cheap after all.

It's interesting to hear comments such as these from Intel itself. Personally, such sentiments aren't particularly shocking but, rather, paint a realistic picture of the netbook market. I'm sure not everyone will agree, though.




December 1, 2008, 10:36 pm

I agree in that I couldn't stand to use a netbook on a daily basis for long hours without an external keyboard/mouse and screen. Maybe that's where netbooks will go next, netbooks with docking stations which allows them to easily be connected to an external keyboard and screen.


December 1, 2008, 10:53 pm

I think the future is in laptops you take with you during the day. When you come home, you have an "expander" machine, that enables your laptop to utilise more Ram, Dedicated powerful graphics card, Hard drive storage, external display without any fuss.

Not currently feasible, but those external graphics cards by ASUS already avaliable are only the start. Plus I would never own a netbook, but would recommend them to my parents who only want to check email, look at prices on the internet and watch movies.

Hamish Campbell

December 1, 2008, 11:05 pm

hmm i wonder if intel doesn't really like this market. Depends of margin of course, but if they are super cheap and lower margins than other laptops then how much to do they lose out if people buy a netbook instead of a laptop.

Of course there are perhaps a number of people that buy another laptop (netbook) who otherwise wouldn't due to the price.

Hmm seems I have absolutely no conclusions or facts. What an interesting post.


December 2, 2008, 12:17 am


I doubt their margins are much different from their other more powerful chipsets, with more 'mainstream' notebooks with more fully fledged notebooks up for grabs around &#163350 (when most netbooks are hovering around &#163300) I would guess Intel makes about the same amount of money on the chipsets, and it's unlike Intel not to be business savvy.


December 2, 2008, 2:02 am

@ darkspark88

Well actually the future will be like netbooks only less powerful. They could even be the size of your phone and you could plug in a lager screen or keyboard when you needed it. All processing would be done on powerful servers located around the world. Your computer would just send the data over a high speed network, the server will do the processing and send the processed data back to your computer and your small low powered computer will update the screen or show the results of whatever task you're doing. Computers will be dirt cheap and have a huge battery life due to the fact that there will be low spec components (no need for lots of ram or storage space or a powerful processor). And you'll probably pay some sort of rental similar to a broadband subscription for the server to do the processing. That's my 2 cents!


December 2, 2008, 5:54 am

@ aaron88

That's assuming data is completely secure. I for one like to know copies of the data on my laptop and the backups I make are the only copies of the data out there. I wouldn't be comfortable, however more efficient the system is to release that information for storage externally. Neither would a lot of people.

The rental/subscription model would never work on a consumer level, unless you are talking about businesses who as we know are extremely capable with data security that doesn't belong to them.

This idea might be possible under Quantum computing which is a far way off. I wouldn't mind sending my data to another galaxy or universe to be processed where it's 100% secure :) and get my results instantly.

Geoff Richards

December 2, 2008, 1:09 pm

I say to our friend at Intel: "what's wrong with only an hour a day?"

I work on 2 x 24" monitors all day and that's when I get my power work done. The times I use my notebook (and instead my use a netbook) are things like checking the news in the morning before I get out of bed, checking the live timing during an F1 race, chatting on MSN etc

For email / internet use, a netbook is more than enough power for most people. The form-factor is context-sensitive ie something light to read TR on the train = netbook; video-editing in my hotel room on a business trip = powerful notebook; Photoshopping enormous images = my 24" monitors at TRHQ.

Horses for courses :)


December 2, 2008, 3:45 pm

I imagine that production of Atom processors is taking up a fair amount of Intel's 45nm fab production, which I imagine could be used to manufacture much more profitable processors. I wonder whether Intel feel like they've created a bit of a (very tiny) monster...they've created a low-margin product sector which has become far more popular than they anticipated.


December 2, 2008, 6:09 pm

I'm glad to see ARM attempting to get a foot in the netbook door. At least with a netbook with a latest ARM processor inside, you should get 4 hours usage off a standard battery. The single-cored Atom chip has been something of a disappointment when it comes to battery life, and its overall performance has been nothing to write home about.


December 2, 2008, 6:38 pm


I think the problem isn't so much the Atom processor, but the ageing 945GSE chipset it's paired with. I think it was suggested that a purpose designed low-power chipset might be in the works?

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