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Apple: Netbooks Don't Deserve Mac Brand

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 101 comments

As the rumors about the new iPhone due out in June really start to kick off, people are also talking about the possibility of an Apple netbook or tablet.

For now, just fantasyFor now, just fantasyFueling the rumors are several reports claiming 'x' manufacturer is supplying the screens or 'y' company is supplying flash memory for the production of a low-cost Apple netbook (or tablet). This week, in an effort to put all these rumors to rest, Apple’s COO Tim Cook reiterated a point Steve Jobs made during an earnings call in 2008: the company is in no way interested in making a netbook.

“We don’t know how to build a sub-$500 computer that is not a piece of junk,” Jobs said late last year. During that same call, Cook said that Apple wouldn’t produce low-end phones and that it doesn't want to be the market leader when it comes to the number of units sold. Apple wants to make the best phone possible, period. Yesterday Cook revealed just how much he hates netbooks and finished by telling analysts (once again) that budget netbooks is not a segment Apple wants to be a part of.

“When I look at netbooks, I see cracked keyboards, terrible software, junky hardware, very small screens,” he said. “It’s just not a good consumer experience and not something we would put the Mac brand on. It’s a segment we would not choose to play in.”

According to VentureBeat, when asked about compact devices for browsing and email, Cook pointed out that the iPhone and iPod Touch are both suitable, adding that he thought calling a netbook a personal computer was “a stretch.”

When we heard Steve’s comments last year, we immediately assumed that because the company “didn’t know how to build a sub-$500 computer that is not a piece of junk,” Apple would manufacturer a UMPC (similar to Sony’s P Series Lifestyle PC) and charge customers around $800-$900. However, Cook’s comments make it sound like Apple is against the idea of netbooks entirely, and not just because of their price. However, that doesn't rule out an Apple tablet.

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Top Comments
  • 41 Hide
    jgoette , April 23, 2009 4:10 PM
    omg we're apple and we are way too cool to be selling affordable computers in an emerging market
  • 33 Hide
    cl_spdhax1 , April 23, 2009 4:15 PM
    apple has the same amount of ego as kanye west.
  • 26 Hide
    mrfisthand , April 23, 2009 4:25 PM
    “We don’t know how to build a sub-$500 computer that is not a piece of junk,”

    That sounds like a personal problem Steve
Other Comments
  • 41 Hide
    jgoette , April 23, 2009 4:10 PM
    omg we're apple and we are way too cool to be selling affordable computers in an emerging market
  • 12 Hide
    cl_spdhax1 , April 23, 2009 4:14 PM
    man, these apple news are starting to become annoying.
  • 33 Hide
    cl_spdhax1 , April 23, 2009 4:15 PM
    apple has the same amount of ego as kanye west.
  • 24 Hide
    koss64 , April 23, 2009 4:21 PM
    Well this is a peice of arrogance and snobbery.This COO has expressed what I always knew about Apple and its fanboys in plain english, they really have a dislike for budget and economy and gleefully hold thier noses up to anyone that thinks otherwise.
  • 16 Hide
    Roffey123 , April 23, 2009 4:22 PM
    “We don’t know how to build a sub-$500 computer that is not a piece of junk,”

    How f***ing hard is it? All netbooks use the same damn processor and chipset; what a lame bloody excuse.
  • 5 Hide
    Caffeinecarl , April 23, 2009 4:23 PM
    Since when does Apple not want to max out the number of units sold? Did they abandon the iPod?

    Semi-unrelated tangent: Aside from anything else, I'd probably not consider a netbook when I could spend the same amount of money on a good used small notebook and end up with more power and more storage.
  • 15 Hide
    stryk55 , April 23, 2009 4:25 PM
    Well, this is just proof that Apple is not interested in being a larger player in the computer market as a whole. It is understandable to want to make the best products possible, but if they truly were making the best products possible, they would have more market share, not to mention more interest in creating lower priced products.
  • 26 Hide
    mrfisthand , April 23, 2009 4:25 PM
    “We don’t know how to build a sub-$500 computer that is not a piece of junk,”

    That sounds like a personal problem Steve
  • 16 Hide
    megamanx00 , April 23, 2009 4:33 PM
    That's O.k., Macs don't deserve to be connected to my network :D .

    Seriously though it's hard to see a place for an apple netbook. It would have to be a little more robust than current netbooks to run OSX, though I guess a port from the IPone OS would probably be a better choice. Then again why would they do that when they are pushing the iPhone and earn more with those subscriber fees than selling a sub $500 netbook? We don't want to give customers nifty little features and apps without giving AT&T their unfair share right?

    I agree that it doesn't make business sense for Apple right now to put out a netbook. I just wish they weren't ELITIST JERKS about it.
  • 12 Hide
    cynewulf , April 23, 2009 4:36 PM
    Ha! I knew Apple were quite far up their own a**es but I actually think this time they've completely disappeared!
  • 7 Hide
    theJ , April 23, 2009 4:40 PM
    megamanx00That's O.k., Macs don't deserve to be connected to my network .Seriously though it's hard to see a place for an apple netbook. It would have to be a little more robust than current netbooks to run OSX, though I guess a port from the IPone OS would probably be a better choice. Then again why would they do that when they are pushing the iPhone and earn more with those subscriber fees than selling a sub $500 netbook? We don't want to give customers nifty little features and apps without giving AT&T their unfair share right?I agree that it doesn't make business sense for Apple right now to put out a netbook. I just wish they weren't ELITIST JERKS about it.


    Very well put. I wouldn't expect Mac to put out a netbook. It just doesn't make sense for them to do so.

    It's would be like the $50 Steak House down the road coming out with a dollar menu.
  • 10 Hide
    jsloan , April 23, 2009 4:41 PM
    it's about them not wanting to make an inexpensive apple because they focus on high profit margin. if they could sell it for $1k they would, but because they have to sell it for $300 they are not interested.
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , April 23, 2009 4:49 PM
    Soooo....Apple can build a $1000 piece of junk..cough(macbook)...and not a $500 piece of junk. If they lower the price of the macbook to $500 then it would be a $500 piece of junk.
  • -2 Hide
    Marcus Yam , April 23, 2009 5:02 PM
    The funny thing is that in many PC vs Mac arguments about price/value, the Mac camp always says that Apple goods are premium, luxury items.

    Netbooks, despite having moved up in feature sets and prices to the point of stepping into notebook territory, have never been a premium item. The first Eee PC were barebones, utilitarian machines that only promised to run a web browser and other basic items.

    Tim Cook's comments, while sounding quite elitist, do reflect Apple's attitudes about the rest of the industry's products -- they're just not Apple. An Apple-designed "netbook" will likely be of a very high build quality (probably with aluminum casing) and most certainly not $500.
  • 4 Hide
    nerdherd , April 23, 2009 5:02 PM
    A Mac netbook just wouldn't work because they couldn't overcharge for it in a way that would work out for anyone. Seeing $300 Windows based netbooks with the same hardware found in a $900 Mac netbook would just be too much for most people. But I would think that about Macs in general anyway...
  • 1 Hide
    Nossy , April 23, 2009 5:03 PM
    Huh. Kinda silly because Sony is similar to Apple. An $800-$1000 netbook. The real problem is they dont want netbooks to cannibalize Mac mini and Apple TV. The netbook market is actually a good starting point for Apple to increase market share. Too bad they can't see it.
  • 1 Hide
    sublifer , April 23, 2009 5:09 PM
    Roffey123All netbooks use the same damn processor and chipset


    Thats one of my biggest problems with the netbooks... I want something nearly identical but with a little bit more processing power and response not to mention graphics...
  • 2 Hide
    duckmanx88 , April 23, 2009 5:12 PM
    take your antisemitism elsewhere chaos.

    and apple is ridiculous. they only cater to those willing to pay hundred of dollars more than what the machine is worth. those people prefer the sign to the substance. lame.
  • 3 Hide
    joebob2000 , April 23, 2009 5:12 PM
    All that this demonstrates (to me, at least) is that there was apparently some cognitive dissonance left over in the minds of consumers that Apple was some sort of 'free love' all-inclusive brand. Maybe 10 years ago when they were still trying to carve a niche by flooding schools with cheap computers and software, but those days are long gone. Apple is now on the same retail (top) shelf with Banana Republic and Pottery Barn, a significant part of the reason the brand is popular is that not everyone can have one. There is no reason for their product to be 'cheap', in price or in appearance, and that is right where netbooks are: low cost, low margin, low satisfaction.

    Tim Cook is perfectly right to say this plainly, and you guys calling him a jerk (among other, less appropriate epithets) is baseless. How dare he be honest!
  • 3 Hide
    69camaroSS , April 23, 2009 5:18 PM
    Netbooks are just a stopgap anyway, right between laptops and usable touchscreen UMPC's. I understand them not wanting to jump on the band wagon, when the next wagon is right down the road. They'll probably come out with a slate type tablet that serves the same function as a netbook. They'll be able to price it higher and keep their precious margins. Seems like good news for current netbook manufacturers to me.
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