Five Reasons Why the Nokia N97 Smartphone Ain’t No Netbook Killer

by Jay Bika on December 2, 2008 · 4 comments

in Apple,Intel,Opinion

A Forbes article by Brian Caulfield entitled “Why Nokia Could Kill The Netbook” explains how the new Nokia N97 smartphone is going to stop the low cost laptop craze.

The Nokia N97 and no other smartphone for that matter will be no netbook killer. Mr. Caulfield provides arguments that seem logical to someone obsessed with gadgets but in reality have nothing to do with the average person, the ultimate user of the Nokia N97 or any netbook computer.

1) Mr. Caulfield writes: “After all, the Nokia N97 and even Apple’s iPod Touch promise to do everything a netbook does with one key difference: You can actually slip these suckers into your pocket.

Who said that the average netbook user wants a mobile computing device that is that small?

I really think that everyone who writes about the netbook craze should first put his or her ear to the ground and figure out why people buy netbooks. 

People buy netbooks because they are cheap and portable versions of laptops. I will get into the price issue later but let’s talk about the portability now. A netbook is a mini-notebook. That’s what the average consumer is buying. He or she wants to do the basic computing tasks. Notice that I say computing. In his and her mind, a Nokia N97 is a phone with smart functions while a netbook is a computer that can do the basic tasks and still be portable. 

2)  If you own a smart phone, however, you will use it every day”, also writes the Forbes columnist. That’s a supportive argument to what the Intel executive said: “If you’ve ever used a netbook, it’s fine for an hour,” Stu Pann, vice president of sales and marketing at Intel, told investors at a Raymond James IT supply chain conference. “It’s not something you’re going to use day in and day out.”  (See: Intel Thinking Of Bailing Out of Netbooks)

Let’s make one thing clear. Mr Stu Pann meant that the netbook is not a computer that you can use all day, meaning that you can you could not for instance write a whole novel on a netbook as you would need a bigger and more comfortable keyboard and a wider screen.

All netbook owners are aware of this. If you had to run a poll, you will find that they do not use their low cost ultra portable laptops for intervals longer than an hour anyway. I still have to hear of netbook owners who do. And those who do, won’t mind anyway because they’re comfortable with it.

Saying that people would use the Nokia N97 is a little bit deceiving. Yes, they would have it in their pocket 24/7. But it’s not as if they will be actively doing even minor computing tasks like checking out Facebook (Robert Scoble dubs the Nokia N97, the ultimate Facebook device).

Does Mr. Caulfield really want to convince anyone that for example, a Nokia N97 user will spend all day crafting motivation letters to send to prospective employers? But, it’s more likely that the same person would do the same thing on a netbook.

3) Mr. Caulfield writes: “Putting the smarts of a computer, together with the Internet, into a pocket-sized device is the multibillion-unit market that Intel is scrambling toward. For Intel, netbooks are just a waypoint on that journey”.

If I understood correctly, he is saying that what computers can do so can smartphones (at least in the months or years to come).

Just because a smartphone can run a productivity application just like a netbook does not mean that people will want to write their autobios from their phones. What will happen and what is happening instead is that there are different types of apps being developed for the different devices.

For instance, I was reading the other day that in London, one of the bets selling iPhone app was an advanced police trap finder. Why would anyone want to use that on a laptop no matter how small?

4) The last quote from the article is: “And both Apple’s iPhone and Nokia’s smart phones boast hours of battery life.”

It depends. If you are going to watch movies on your iPhone mid-Atlantic flight, I doubt that you will make it to the other side with your device still on. I know that you could not really do the same with a netbook.

On the other hand, with some netbooks you can take notes from some university lectures all day and never need to be on the lookout of a power plug.

My point is that battery life in itself does not mean anything. It depends on what you need it for. You need long battery life on phones so that you can be reached all the time. You just need long netbook battery life to get you through what you need to do for short period of times (3-4 hours).

5) One think that tech insiders seem to forget is that netbooks and smartphones are different categories and the consumer (the person who actually dishes out his and her hard earn money) sees it as such.

To the consumer, a netbook is a cheap and portable laptop computer while a smartphone is a high end mobile phone.

A netbook is more of a necessity while a smartphone is a luxury.

I find that comparing netbooks and smartphones is like comparing buying a car to buying a bicycle.

The Nokia N97 is the Rolls Royce of mobile phones while netbooks are the cheapest and/or more portable brands of computers.

You can get some super expensive bicycles such as the ones used to ride the Tour de France and you can still get super cheap automobiles such as the Tata’s $2000 car.

A real smartphone user (such as the president-elect) is not carrying around a Blackberry, iPhone or Nokia N97 because they want an ultra portable computer. A real netbook user wants to save money on a computer and/or wants a computer that is ultra portable.

Saying that the Nokia N97 will kill netbooks is like saying that a Hyundai will kill the $20 000 bicycle because the Hyundai is cheaper.

The netbook will be killed by a cheaper/more portable and yet more powerful netbook or laptop. The Nokia N97’s job is to kill the iPhone and the Blackberrys and that’s will be quite a daunting tasks in its own as Nokia has been trying with all the N Series.

{ 4 trackbacks }

N97: The Nokia “Netbook” Unveiled
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Battle of the Platforms: iPhones vs. Netbooks | EEENetbook.com
September 12, 2009 at 9:26 pm
What’s the Deal with Smartbooks? Should You Even Care? | EEENetbook.com
September 12, 2009 at 10:34 pm

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