The iPhone is the Apple netbook?

Posted on 22 October 2008, Last updated on 22 October 2008 by

Many others have written about it. NYTimes. ARS Technica, Liliputing, GearLog are just a few. This taken direct the article at Small-Laptops.

Jobs on netbooks: “As we look at the netbook category, that’s a nascent category. As best as we can tell, there’s not a lot of them being sold. You know, one of our entrants into that category if you will is the iPhone, for browsing the Internet, and doing email and all the other things that a netbook lets you do. And being connected via the cellular network wherever you are, an iPhone is a pretty good solution for that, and it fits in your pocket.

I love that attitude. He’s effectively saying that MIDs are where it’s at isn’t he. Isn’t he? The ‘Not a lot being sold’ part is probably a nod towards their 7 million iPhone sales.

I agree with Jobs and believe the Netbooks segment is a dangerous segment to be playing in right now. I believe that the action will start to take place in other segments soon. It will only take one well-executed MID/PMP product to make heads turn and for people to realise that most of what they do on their netbooks (surfing, reading emails, IM, videos) can be done by a device that fits in the pocket. Yes I know some of you use netbooks as laptops for inputting text but to be honest, I don’t think that inputting reams of text is what most people are doing with their netbooks. When that special product comes out and when those heads turn, people like Samsung, Toshiba, ASUS could get caught out with big zero-margin netbook stocks. In fact the whole Intel Atom ecosystem could get caught out if that device turns out to be based on an ARM core and gets followed up by a raft of cool ARM-based devices from established players.

Jobs will need a product to replace the iPod in the next 18 months and a combined video and Internet device is perfect for that. There’s almost no question that Apple will do a 4-6" device and that the technology and software is there to be able to do it but the question is, when will the market and carriers be ready? End of 2009? Beginning of 2010? Apple must have tens of prototypes in the lab ready to choose from and they’re probably doing the sensible business thing by waiting.

33 Comments For This Post

  1. Marc says:

    Of all the devices I’ve played with, the iPhone is still the most satisfying experience. No it isn’t the full internet experience that I want, but it is a joy to use. And now the App store has taken off it is the gadget in my bag.

    If Apple could scale up the iPhone/Touch to a 4.8″ 800×480 screen, add flash to the browser and add a slim HTC Smartphone style slider keyboard then I think they would have the killer MID.

    I’d buy one in a second, even at Apple prices….

  2. Marc says:


    “And now the App store has taken off it is the FIRST gadget in my bag.”

  3. Rasti says:

    You can try the SonyEricsson Xperia 1 wichs is really made by HTC, is 800×480, sliding keyboard, touch screen..

  4. Vikenty says:

    Iphone is 12 mm depth, that is great – i wish if MID’s were 15 mm depth or less

    I believe Apple can do that

  5. ecsk2 says:

    Apple could do something similar to this :)

  6. Chippy says:

    Vikenty – your wish has been granted…

  7. David says:

    Woz had the right prediction, that sooner or later, the original concept of the iPod will be obsolete.

    Apple should consider a replacement of the “click-wheel” series of iPods and prepare them to be “more” like their older brother, The iPod Touch!

    If they go for an MID like Gigabyte did or Aigo, it would definitely be something worthy since the iPod Touch nor the iPhone has a physical keyboard.

    Which now that I think of it, it would make sense… have a series of Touch Screen and a series of ones with Touch Screen + Physical Keyboard [there were rumors of Steve Jobs showing off a prototype iPhone with a physical keyboard] hint hint.

  8. JC says:

    Isn’t iPod touch the combined video and internet device which replaced the iPod? (Apple is slowly phasing out iPod classic, after all.) I think they already have a MID, and it’s iPod touch (or iPhone if you want 3G).

    It’s clear that all the research Apple has done to develop a tablet ended up in iPhone and iPod touch. This is why I routinely dismiss speculation about an Apple tablet.

    Apple may have a 4-6 inch device in their labs. However, if past history is any indication, it will not look like what you expect. i.e., people expecting Apple to clone an Aigo or a Gigabyte will likely be disappointed. (Or they may like what Apple does instead, assuming the device actually exists, better.)

  9. John says:

    I’d love to see Apple do something like either:

    1) an iPhone and/or iPod Touch that has a slide out keyboard, 4.8″ keyboard, and some form of encrypted remote desktop support (one of the things I use my N810 for is ssh/vnc to my Mac). Basically, an N810 with the iPhone software.

    2) a 7″ or 8″ screen tablet, like the Samsung Q1 (non-ultra), with virtual split keyboards, merging/blending the traditional desktop apps and iPhone experience. Then, like the game controller you an clip on to the ends of the iPhone, a pair of thumb keyboards you could clip on to it (so that it becomes like a Q1 Ultra) would be a nice accessory.

    I’d buy either of those devices.

  10. ecsk2 says:

    I still feel the CLAMSHELL design has a lot more to offer than slide outs! You get more “real estate” so to speak when you open it up and it can be “free standing” in a fashion that a slider can’t.

  11. John says:

    I don’t know, the advantage that a clamshell/laptop/netbook type format has over a slider seems to me to be negated if your slider is a tilt screen slider.

    Looking at the AT&T Tilt (forget which HTC model it’s based on), you get the advantages of a tablet as well as the free standing abilities of a clamshell.

    Part of it depends on how far the slide mechanism goes. In the case of an N810, you’re fairly accurate — only about half of the device’s square area is revealed when you slide it. But other sliders go a lot further (the Tilt, and the T-Mobile G1, for example).

    To me, better than clamshell or slider would be a twist/convertible screen, like the Fujitsu Lifebook U810, or the HTC Universal phone. Then you really do get all of the advantages of the laptop and tablet formats. But I doubt Apple would want to do something that inelegant.

  12. chyew says:

    What is Jobs talking about?
    Asus already sold more than 4million eeepcs to date.
    And that’s only Asus alone.

    Give me an eeePC over a useless iphone anyday.

  13. ecsk2 says:

    May I ask based on what criteria you classify the iPhone as “useless”?

  14. esk2 says:

    I just wanted to point out that just as has been in the media lately Steve Jobs has on NUMEROUS of times made comments that have turned out completely false. Many believe it is to through the rumors off. Apple has an ACTIVE role in what rumors circulate about their upcoming products. For good or for bad but Apple uses this rumor mill as a marketing tool.

  15. aehouseman says:

    I feel somewhat slighted as if being able to touch type up to 80 words a minute makes me a second class citizen.

    Maybe the majority of the future does belong to the “feel and poke” crowd but please allow a little room for those with more dexterity.


  16. ecsk2 says:

    I’m sorry but this comment about 80 words a minute is in reply to…?

    BTW is there a nice online WPM test I could test my ability on my mobile at? :)

  17. aehouseman says:


    since you ask, it is reply to chippy above-

    “Yes I know some of you use netbooks as laptops for inputting text but to be honest, I don’t think that inputting reams of text is what most people are doing with their netbooks.”

    Good idea though about the typing test though.
    I would really like to know how quick some of the kids are with their thumbs. We need standardized tests.

    1 test- total characters
    2 test- a short paragraph (or longer) that they would send with the normal shortcuts

    And I typed this in about 30 seconds, but I did change my music and rub my nose.


  18. ecsk2 says:

    There are several WPM testers out there just Google it :)
    I don’t know how fast I type but I know it’s a lot faster than on a normal KB, and that I can take notes at a meeting “fluently” and type without looking on my 5 row SK LX :)

  19. Brack says:

    sorry but the IPhone, PDA’s, MID’s, etc are just stripped down experiences. they are fine for what they are intended to do, but they dont replace traditional laptops or netbooks, not even close.

    netbooks really can do 90% of what your desktop does, IPhones & the like cannot. you find me an iPhone that cant email, surf, torrent, emule, IM, etc, at the sametime.

    the iPhone is a dumbed-down “stop-gap” between the future vision of PC makers & Apple, to have a full PC experience in your pocket. OQO started is, the big players will finish it. but 1st the hardware has to catch up & the interfaces to follow.

  20. ecsk2 says:

    Im sorry but I don’t think iPhones and PDA should be included in the MID category as Intel intended it. Although it is true that the iPhone can fill a certain amount of Mobile Internet Device function it really isn’t what the MID is intended to be. iPhone, PDA and MIDs are all in their OWN categories really!

    Now is their intention to REPLACE the Laptops or netbooks? No not really but to give you the power of your laptop in places you have not or wouldn’t have had a laptop with you before. How often have you typed on a laptop standing in line somewhere or being in your car driving (ok ok not to be recommended either way) but point being and emphasis on MOBILE!

    What do you mean by “find me an iPhone that cant email, surf, torrent, emule, IM etc, at the sametime” let me try to translate this?!

    A) Cant = can’t but you mean CAN?

    B) Torrent and emule would both be referring to the same activity of (most often illegally) sharing content, correct?

    C) etc, what are you including in that and what not?

    As for the torrenting aside from it being majority of illegal activity it would in most cases be for files of the size you wouldn’t be typically dealing with on a mobile device in the first place.

    With my Sidekick LX I can read/type/reply to emails at the same time as it’s pulling a website at the same time as I have an active AIM, YAHOO *AND* MSN messaging going on, in fact that device it’s impossible to NOT have BROWSER, EMAIL, and IM running at all times, the beauty of it actually oh and music player a what other things it has I don’t even use. So a mobile device can very efficiently run things at once, this the iPhone can too although there’s a lot of limitations mainly due to Apple politics really such as no native Skype (only through FRING) and the not accepting the tethering of NETSHARE, that’s all POLITICS not a technical issue!

    Yes that’s got to be one of the first things I fully agree with that OQO was a pioneer in the field, now as mentioned already many times their “on pause” status right now is hurting them, and just look at the Netbook market, it’s not really your “big player” that is taking over it on the contrary quite unknown to the segment brand names breaking through, and “big players” BUYING themselves into the segment thanks to rebranding!

    Well the hardware is as Chippy pointed out for instance with the Everun Note ready to rock and roll, but its a lot about profitability and politics right now!

  21. ecsk2 says:

    Seen this

    BTW birds have been telling me for about a year now that there is some Apple product in the making with around a 10″ LCD screen :)

  22. aehouseman says:

    I know this is vague and not much more than you said, but I would bear the curse of the “mean as a snake little sister” if I say more.

    My sister and brother in law are Apple folks to their core, and my brother in law is “very connected” but I dare not say more about that.

    He is also close mouthed as most “very connected” folks are, but he has hinted to me to wait because a “superior” Apple Netbook is coming. 8, 9 or 10 inch screen. (It seems that there is some tinkering still going on to find the very best combinations.)

    I have seen the Dell, and now the Toshiba and Lenovo and am awaiting the Apple. I would prefer a mainline name, and Christmas is my target date.

  23. Suppy says:

    …. and has great Windows Mobile experience… no, thank You.

  24. ecsk2 says:

    This was a reply to what exactly?

  25. Suppy says:

    That was an answer for Rasti’s post about SE Xperia. Behind nice menu there is normal WM which is not very good imho.

  26. ecsk2 says:

    See as I was trying to say sometimes Steve’s (Jobs that is! :)) comments sometimes might mean the complete opposite of what he’s actually saying :)

  27. ecsk2 says:

    ..and how the “We don’t know how to build a sub-$500 computer that is not a piece of junk” means just that, it won’t be $499 but $599 :)

  28. Ux says:

    Here it is:

    Next Apple moves will be Books and Games…


  29. says:

    funny, i distinctly recall jobs saying that ebooks was of no interest less then a year ago…

  30. Vinh says:

    Honestly I’m waiting on the next great netbook, one with a more powerful Atom chip. If SSD drive prices were to fall as well well…music makers such as myself would have a great system to run software like Ableton Live on! Imagine walking into a gig and your whole software synth rack was on a tiny little netbook…doubt a MID could do that.

  31. Don says:

    Did Job’s say “ONE of our entrants”?

  32. Tokyorob says:

    I think job’s smoking crack if he thinks that the iPhone is in the netbook camp !! The iPhone is a passable phone what it does better than any thing is integration

  33. Yoshie Millholland says:

    I’ve been looking through the web for my research on this matter, thank you so much…

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