At Apple Gazette, Michael made a post about why Apple wouldn’t release a netbook, pointing out how the only non-netbooks on Amazon’s list of top 20 selling computers are Macbooks. That’s a nice observation, but then Michael postulates that because of this, Apple would be in danger of cannibalizing its own sales should it release a netbook. That’s where he goes too far.
All the Amazon list shows is that Apple dominates notebook sales at Amazon, not that Apple is seriously poised to compete against the netbook trend. That is to say, the Amazon list does not show that people in the market for a netbook are looking at the Macbook as an option. In fact, it’s quite a sensible argument to make that some people who initially look at buying an Apple product ultimately don’t, since Apple doesn’t have a netbook option available. Just because Macbook sales are doing well, doesn’t mean they’re doing well against anything except for other notebooks, which the price point is clearly targeting. Remember that the Amazon list is a sales list of all computers, and isn’t a poll about what customers ultimately purchased after looking at netbook options.
People looking at netbooks are specifically looking for lightweight machines that have a small physical footprint, as well as a small footprint for their wallet. The truth is, Apple’s only real competitor in this market is the iPhone, and that’s even a huge stretch to say; the iPhone is able to manage most browsing and multimedia tasks that netbooks can, but as an input platform, it fails miserably. For road-warriors who need to write lots of e-mails, or write at all, the iPhone just doesn’t cut it. That’s one of the reasons we envisioned the Apple Annex, which would not only leverage iPhone sales, but position the iPhone to compete directly with netbooks, thus saving Apple the hassle to invest in a brand new notebook format.
With new AT&T-contracted iPhones selling for a mere $200, our proposal of the Annex’ $250 price-point would clearly position the iPhone Annex to squarely compete against even the cheapest netbooks (even leaving for some MSRP wiggle-room). That said, we don’t necessarily think Apple will release a netbook anytime soon, but we’d also like to think that an accessory like the Annex makes plenty of sense for Apple to push itself into another market, with practically no product revisions necessary.