Apple: We think netbooks are junk

Rumors may be rife that Apple is hard at work on a netbook, but you couldn't tell that from what Chief Operating Office Tim Cook said in yesterday's earnings call. But even though he essentially called netbooks junk, expect to see a netbook-like product from Apple.

Computerworld reports that Cook belittled netbooks during the earnings call, saying:

"When I look at what is being sold in the netbook space today, I see cramped keyboards, terrible software, junky hardware, very small screens, and just not a consumer experience, and not something that we would put the Mac brand on, quite frankly. And so, it's not a space as it exists today that we are interested in, nor do we believe that customers in the long term would be interested in. It's a segment we would choose not to play in."

Sounds like Cook is closing the door to netbooks, doesn't it? Well, not quite. He left himself more than a little wiggle room. Later in the call he added:

"That said, we do look at the space and are interested to see our customers' response to it...Of course, if we find a way where we can deliver an innovative product that really makes a contribution, then we will do that and we have some interesting ideas in the space."

In other words, because Apple hasn't released a netbook, what's out there is junk, but if Apple releases one, it won't be junk.

Analysts were quick to dismiss Cook's dissing netbooks. Brian Marshall, an analyst at Broadpoint AmTech, told Computerworld about the call:

"I didn't hear any change from the company line. But that's getting a little stale...If you track the industry, which Apple certainly does, you have to conclude that netbooks are a success. I definitely think they'll come out with a netbook or tablet, or netbook-slash-tablet, in the second half of this year."

I expect some kind of Apple device in the second half of the year as well, even if they won't call it a netbook. As I've said previously, when Microsoft releases Windows 7, some time later this year, it will make a big netbook push. I wouldn't be surprised to see Apple release a netbook some time around the release of Windows 7.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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