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Is the 10-inch Netbook going to disappear?

Some manufacturers are reportedly moving away from smaller-size Atom Netbooks. Could this be the beginning of the end for the seemingly stalwart 10-incher?

Sarah Tew/CNET

Amid a week of tablet mania, a quiet note from DigiTimes: Dell and HP are reportedly backing off on their investment in 10-inch Netbooks, focusing instead on AMD-based 11-inch devices where profits are higher. Though we'd qualify this as unconfirmed news, it's an intriguing thought in the wake of the launch of the iPad.

We've known for years that most computer manufacturers are less than pleased with being in the Netbook space. Margins are small, pricing is brutal (for the manufacturer, that is), and the standardized specs of most Netbooks can be numbing. We've seen some Netbooks begin to pull away from the pack, offering 11-inch and higher screens, larger-resolution displays, Nvidia graphics, and even (gasp) non-Atom processors. Sometimes, there are even laptops resembling Netbooks that actually have high-powered dual-core ULV CPUs.

Considering what the iPad is offering, maybe it's in the best interest for Netbook makers to soup up their products to really offer something the iPad can't touch, albeit at a slightly higher price. Could the mobile computing world divide into two spheres, one for smaller tablets, the other for souped-up, keyboarded ultraportables? More importantly, do you want the 10-inch Netbook to disappear, too? After all, we've already said good-bye to 7-inch Netbooks, haven't we?

Could this be the beginning of the last days of the Netbook as we know it?