Monday, 6 July 2009

The Netbook Revolution


It all began with a little computer, that spurned the creation of an entire new category of personal computers. Few saw it ever emerging and even fewer thought it would last, but alas netbooks are here to stay. The way we view computers have evolved with time, more of us use computers in our everyday lives and some of us, don’t look at me, are practically attached to these silicon powerhouses. What do we want from our personal computers?

This question generates many varied answers from young people, but the most common themes are usually a mix of mobility, power and connectivity. In that respect, I think that netbooks were specifically designed with our generation in mind, we've grown up in the technology age, we want information at our finger tips, and we want it now, not when we're finally back at the office after that site inspection or after enduring herculean traffic jams in the city of Lagos.

Sometimes I try to remember the days before mobile phones came along, and I give up after a few seconds, I truly cannot remember nor imagine what it could have been like. What would I do if I was not able to have instant communication with family, friends and fellow workers? Just as it was with mobile technology, I think it will be with netbooks. One day we'll certainly look back and think how anyone was able to get any work done or have complete communication with a network of people.

Netbooks are officially described as ultra-mobile personal computers or UMPC's, with an average weight of 1.2Kgs and a screen size no more than 11" and as low as 6". The word netbook is a combination of the words, internet and notebook, and its purpose is encompassed in its simple name. We all visit our favorite websites and blogs daily, in fact this routine for some already replaces the newspaper as a source of information. The huge networking capabilities of web 2.0 sites like Facebook and Twitter have played a part in the Netbook revolution.

This is the age where the question, what are you doing now? Doesn’t sound half as evasive as it really should, a time when bloggers about celebrities indeed become celebrities themselves. Netbooks appear to have arrived at precisely the right time. The first netbook was Psion's netBook line but this class of personal computers truly received a boost when Asus released their now infamous Eeepc, a 7" device originally designed for emerging markets. So what's out there today? Netbooks are now widely available in Lagos, they are an affordable route to truly mobile computing.

The netbook trend continues to grow, it is estimated that in 2009, 35 million units across different brands would be sold worldwide and by 2013, there would be 139 million netbooks out there. Netbooks do not really on powerful hardware, this is because most netbook users would be accessing online web applications and website more often than software resident in their hard drives. This means most netbooks are affordable, and the lack of an optical drive in netbooks has not hindered its growth potential. We have become accustomed to storing our media on internal and external hard drives, it is debatable but Mp3’s may have already surpassed CD’s as a regular source of music and we now have movie rental websites where you can download and watch a full movie without ever leaving your chair, of course the true advantages of Netbooks need a reliable internet service but with the likes of MTN 3G service and the upcoming service from GLO, I am sure we’ll see an improvement in the Internet service provider sector.

HP's Vivienne Tam netbook

Lenovo's S10e netbook

By Chiedu Ifeozo, Editor, Greyed-out magazine

No comments: