On Thursday Dell consumers began reporting that the company's "Mini" line of netbooks had been removed from the website and replaced with a message stating that they are no longer available. "Shop the next best thing - the Inspiron 14R, a stylish and portable 14-inch laptop with SWITCHable lids," the message added.
The stealthy product removal was quiet to say the least, and prior to this report, Dell hadn't publicly announced an official departure from the netbook sector. So what's going on? Wanting to get to the root of the mystery, Liliputing pulled out the magnifying glass, the Scooby Snacks, and investigated the forum reports. The site confirmed that the product page for the Dell Inspiron Mini 1012 listed the netbook as unavailable. Also unavailable was the Dell Inspiron Duo convertible tablet-style netbook, and both the 9-inch and 10-inch Dell netbook were removed from Dell’s Outlet store.
Yet technically Dell hasn't parted ways with the netbook form factor, as the company still offers netbook solutions for business customers. One example is the Dell Latitude 2120 with a starting price of $469, one of the most expensive Intel Atom-powered netbooks on the market. The company also confirmed on Friday that the consumer-based Inspiron Duo is still an active product, and will be available again sometime before Christmas.
With the evidence out in the open, Dell finally came clean and admitted that it is no longer offering consumer-based Mini netbooks 10-inches or smaller. Even more, Dell has no plans to release future models based on Intel's forthcoming Cedar Trail platform, thus marking the Mini line as officially dead and buried. The company said it will instead focus on higher-end premium laptops like the XPS 14z and that new form factor called "ultrabook."
"Thin and powerful is where it is at for us," said Dell Marketing Director Alison Gardner.