AMD CEO sees Netbooks going away

Dirk Meyer says upcoming inexpensive ultra-thin notebooks will meet the need for a small, thin, lightweight laptop that is more powerful than a Netbook.

Advanced Micro Devices' chief executive predicts that Netbooks will eventually disappear. This thinking, though obviously favorable to AMD's strategy, isn't completely at odds with Intel's.

The lightweight HP Pavilion dv2, which uses the AMD Neo processor, is marketed as a notebook
The lightweight HP Pavilion dv2, which uses the AMD Neo processor, is marketed as a notebook Hewlett-Packard

"The distinction between what is a Netbook and what is a notebook is going to go away," AMD CEO Dirk Meyer said Thursday in the company's earnings conference call.

"There will be a continuum of price points and form factors," he said.

"Given the way Netbooks are configured today, consumers who want a notebook at those kind of (low) price points have to compromise and as a result don't enjoy a full PC experience, particularly around the graphics and media capability of the machine," Meyer said. "And likewise people who wanted a thin and light machine had to pay a lot of money, typically well over a thousand dollars."

Upcoming inexpensive ultra-thin notebooks will meet the need for a small, thin, lightweight laptop that is more powerful than a Netbook, Meyer said.

This sentiment is actually backed up to some extent by Intel's recent behavior. Intel CEO Paul Otellini, in that company's earnings conference call last week, spoke oddly of Netbooks in the past tense. He said the buzz around Netbooks at the Consumer Electronics Show "validates our view that (the market) had a high potential for growth and it was an exciting segment, in particular in this kind of economic environment." (Emphasis added.) Otellini did add, however, that he expected Intel "would do very well in the Netbook market in the course of the next couple of years."

Whether his use of tense is just a way to refer to the Netbook market to date or a Freudian slip tied to Intel's intention to bring out new mainstream Core architecture chips for inexpensive thin notebooks later in the year, is not clear. This chip platform could potentially suck a lot of the enthusiasm out of the Netbook market.

And Intel has small plans for its Atom processor in 2009. Aside from a tiny increase in processor speed and a slight improvement in graphics, nothing big is slated for the platform. Is the demise of the Netbook market as we know it today something both AMD and Intel agree on? We'll see.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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