Analyst Offers Detailed Prediction of Apple Netbook for Macworld

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Apple Inc. will be announcing a netbook during Macworld Conference & Expo that is closer to the iPhone or iPod touch than to a Mac, according to conjecture-based report issued by Technology Business Research analyst Ezra Gottheil.

In the research note obtained by The Mac Observer, Mr. Ezra predicts an Apple netbook with a closed structure and limited abilities that build on the software distribution model of the App Store.

He expects such devices to carry a price point of US$599, which would place them well below Mac pricing, but at a slight premium to existing netbooks -- a position he believes suits Apple well. If announced, he thinks delivery could take place in mid-2009.

His prediction is that the form factor of the devices will build on Apple's MacBook Air design, with an even smaller unit that follows the size of existing netbooks.

Though based entirely on conjecture, Mr. Gottheil's approach is the first TMO has seen that leverages Apple's existing business models and infrastructure, while looking at the issue from an Apple-centric view, rather than an industry-centric approach.

MacBook nano speculation
A "MacBook nano," as speculated on and uploaded to Flickr by Frunny in January, 2008.

More specifically, Mr. Gottheil theorizes that other companies who have tried (and failed with) similar products in recent years didn't find a foothold in the marketplace due to their approach and limitations.

"TBR believes these devices were unsuccessful because the vendors did not set user expectations or create ecosystems for their products," he wrote.

According to the research note, "By controlling the software that can be loaded and the hardware that can be attached, Apple's device will be simpler, easier to use and more reliable than a PC, and will excel at the functions most required by users."

To that end, he sees Apple using an App Store-based delivery model for third party applications, a solution that leaves Apple firmly in control of the user experience, and maintains the company's relationship with users.

He also believes that a closed, limited netbook from Apple would allow the company to not devalue the Mac brand, and keep from cannibalizing Mac sales, except for the least expensive MacBooks.

Mr. Gottheil predicted that once Apple shows the way, that other companies would likely relaunch their own efforts based on Apple's business model. He cited HP on the hardware side, with Google a strong contender to provide the software infrastructure, most likely based on the Android platform and its Marketplace for applications.

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I don’t think so.  It is not like Apple to introduce a new product that is so close to the look of something that is already widespread.  It is more likely that Apple will create a “Super iPhone”.  Perhaps a 5-8 inch 4:3 screen with dimples on the screen itself so that you can feel the buttons.  (So movies would display on the upper 16:9 part of the screen so as to avoid the dimples - which would then serve as playback controls.)


Also, the touch-pad in that image is tiny.  Apple is into big touch surfaces now.


I think the MacBook Air is as close to a netbook as Apple wants to get.

Bryan Chaffin

Note, algr, that the image I included in the article is unrelated to TBR’s research note.  It was intended as an example of a possible device, at least in terms of hardware (the mockup is running Mac OS X, which Mr. Gottheil speculates wouldn’t be the case for his device).


Bryan Chaffin

You may be right, Coaten, but the Air is not really close to a netbook. It’s way more full-featured than the netbooks that are out there.

I don’t really expect Apple to announce this device, but what I found intriguing about Mr. Gottheil’s analysis is how he fit it into not only Apple’s mindset, but the company’s existing business models and infrastructure.

So,  don’t really think Apple will do this, but if the company did, I think there’s a strong likelihood that it would resemble this model.



I was speaking to form factor rather than feature list, but I’m not looking for a debate on that.

The other reason I don’t see Apple doing a netbook is because of the nature of that market - dominated by devices that sell with what must be a very slim margin, which just isn’t a place that Apple would seem to fit very well.

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