The Biggest Threat to Windows is Netbooks

February 17th, 2009

Two very interesting blogs/articles on ZDNet cover a fascinating story from slightly different angles.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes points out something that I never imagined happening in my lifetime: The price of PCs, in particular of netbooks, is dropping so fast that soon the operating system (at least the Windows operating system), threatens to become more expensive than the hardware.

Meanwhile Dana Blankenhorn, in a piece called Netbooks Killing Windows Faster Than Expected, reports that “IDC figures from the fourth quarter show a rush toward inexpensive Netbooks and away from Windows laptops. Take out sales of the Atom processor running many Netbooks and total shipments were down 20%, figures showed.”

Meanwhile, as reported February 2nd on MacDailyNews, “Net Applications‘ Operating System stats for January 2009 show Apple’s Mac hit 9.93% share of the operating systems visiting Net Applications’ network of websites worldwide. The stats also show Apple iPhone with a new all-time high of 0.48% share and Apple iPod with a new all-time high of 0.11%.”

Net Applications’ January 2009 Operating System Stats:

Microsoft Windows: 88.26% (vs. May 2006: 95.09%)

Apple Macintosh: 9.93% (vs. May 2006: 4.43%)

Linux: 0.83%

090202_netapps_jan09_os.gifThe trendlines are obvious, although clearly Microsoft Windows is not on the verge of disappearing. It’s less clear what this means to the future of publishing. Software will continue to play an essential role in the ongoing developments in the publishing world, but the operating system that the software runs on is decreasing in significance. So too the hardware.

When Apple introduced the Macintosh and the LaserWriter, Adobe introduced PostScript, and Aldus introduced PageMaker, the seeds of the current publishing revolution were sewn. We’re moving into another era, where creativity in publishing is not primarily about do-it-yourself on a desktop computer, with a printed artifact the outcome.

Exciting times. Exhausting times!

Update: February 18, 2009

In a blog on ZDNet today, Andrew Nusca reports that a chip maker called Freescale “has announced that it will use Google’s Android operating system for a new type of Netbook by next quarter.

“Though Google’s Android software was originally developed for smartphones, Freescale believes it can use the flexible OS to make a new class of less-expensive mini-notebooks and Netbooks.”

…”The company expects the amount of Netbooks sold this year — already an explosive amount of growth — to double to about 30 million. [Mobile research firm ABI Research has a higher forecast of 35 million.]”

Freescale expects the retail price to be $199!