Apple's new CEO: Netbooks "will not provide the experience to customers that they're happy with"

Here's Tim Cook, quoted by Wired's Brian X. Chen:
Apple reinforced its skepticism in netbooks, saying their low-powered CPUs, cramped keyboards and small displays are not enough to satisfy customers... "We've got some ideas, but right now we think the products in theory will not provide the experience to customers that they're happy with," said Tim Cook, Apple's chief operating officer.
It's too easy to assume they're missing the boat because of corporate elitism. But the smarter assumption is that they've got something cooking, and are being customarily sly about it. The clue? When businessmen talk of imaginary customers, a solution to their imaginary problems is always close at hand. Apple Still Oblivious to Netbook Opportunity [Wired: Gadget Lab]

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15 Responses to Apple's new CEO: Netbooks "will not provide the experience to customers that they're happy with"

  1. roboton says:

    They were right about the tablet market too. Instead of a tablet, they released the iPhone.

  2. lectroid says:

    When the MacBook Air hit, I pegged it as a not terribly great product in and of itself (not enough bang for the buck) but as a preview of what we could expect to see in the laptops-to-be.

    Lo and behold, slim, stylin’ macbooks and macbook pros. And, now that you CAN get that style, What’s to prevent the Air from getting a price drop, a couple bells and whilstles (dvd drive mayhaps) and

    Or, as other folks have suggested, approach it from the other end. The Jumbo iPhone-Pro. The long-soughtafter mac-tablet.

    Seems to me any of the above options could, for the right pricepoint, fill in the ‘netbook’ option for Apple quite nicely.

    And would be something I’d consider once this new macbook pro finally sears all the skin off my upper thighs.


  3. Clifton says:

    Oh no!

    Now I’ll have to tell my wife that she wasn’t really ecstatic to get an Eee for her solstice present, and that she wasn’t actually happy with it for the last month, she was just mistaken. Obviously it was a blunder on my part to pay $400 for it instead of 5 times as much for a MacBook Air. I don’t think any of this will persuade her to hand it over, though.

  4. Tensegrity says:

    I’m sure Apple will have a drop-dead gorgeous product to fill the niche between iPhone and Air. And many neon-silhouetted hipsters will dance with joy.

    But what they won’t do is hit a price point to compete with netbooks. It’s a wise strategy to stick to your target market but being so openly dismissive of value-oriented consumers just makes the guy sound dumb.

  5. Rob Beschizza says:

    Sean, Tim is also the current acting CEO of Apple, Inc., and it’s normal to refer to people first by their most magnificent titles.

  6. Rob Beschizza says:

    I think lectroid has it: would Apple be more comfortable with a new lower-end MacBook Air or some sort of fat iPhone? The signs (“cramped keyboards” etc) rather point to the latter, but I like both ideas a lot.

  7. arkizzle says:


    I don’t think he sounds dumb, just that he knows his customers.

  8. arkizzle says:

    ..only a matter of time before something like this is being carried around by everyone.


  9. Gilbert Wham says:

    I’m sure they can do ‘small’ computer. It remains to be seen if they can do ‘cheap’. Just sayin’.
    (note: Gilbert Wham still owns a bootable Powerbook 145. Plz not to flame, ‘K?)

  10. bobdow says:

    We want a 3G and WiFi capable mini tablet with multi-touch that runs the iPhone version of OSX so we can read books, use iPhone apps and surf the web.

    file sharing and printing and basic video out capability should be standard.

    make it the thickness of the iPod Touch. with at least a 4×6 screen

    I’d pay $899 in a heartbeat and dump my kindle, my iPod and would carry my laptop less.

  11. Sean Eric FAgan says:

    So even the fact that the quoted material refers to Cook as the COO isn’t enough to prevent you from calling him the new CEO?

  12. Rajio says:

    “their low-powered CPUs, cramped keyboards and small displays are not enough to satisfy customers”

    …but the iphone’s low-powered CPU, crapmped virtual ‘keyboard’ and tiny display IS enough? what?!

  13. Ceronomus says:

    I dunno. Popular as they are, I, flat out, do not want a netbook. It doesn’t meet my needs.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean that I would blanketly discount the desires of the people that DO want them.

  14. zuzu says:

    The CNC milling of the unibody aluminum laptops is a great leap forward first pioneered for the MacBook Air, but compared with the unibody plain MacBook, a barely justified premium seems to have evaporated almost completely. Now compare with the “forget the touchpad and get a Bluetooth mouse” Sony Vaio P. That’s what I would have expected from a MacBook Air.

  15. Chris Schmidt says:

    While I think Netbooks are wonderful for what they are, they really aren’t a good fit for Apple. The smaller these things get, the less a standard laptop form factor and input method makes sense. We might see a smaller Air, but I don’t think they will take their laptops into the Netbook category.

    If Apple does get into this space, I would expect some kind of iPhone/OSX hybrid about the size of the Sony reader. I’m sure they have a room full of prototypes somewhere. It’s one of those things that would either flop or change the industry. The technology probably isn’t there yet, nor is the “killer app” to sell the thing.

    Maybe I’ve been watching too much Star Trek, but it really seems like only a matter of time before something like this is being carried around by everyone.

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