Are 8.9-inch Netbooks on Their Way Out?

Last week Asus announced that it was discontinuing the 8.9-inch Eee PC, reports have emerged that say all netbook vendors are dropping the price of their 8.9-inch models in order to clear inventory. Is this the end of the 8.9 inch netbook?

A while back a story broke regarding talks between HP and Intel. HP was apparently trying to get Intel to ease its restrictions on its Atom processor so that it could use the ever so popular netbook CPU in netbooks with larger panels. Digitimes reported that HP's '09 roadmap showed the company hoped to add both an 11.6-inch model and a 13.3-inch model to its netbook line, with the 11.6-inch expected sometime in Q2 '09 and the 13.3-inch in June ’09.

The fact that manufacturers are discontinuing smaller netbooks and expressing the need for netbooks with larger panels suggests that the small panels aren’t really hitting the spot for consumers. That said, Asus has said the company will be keeping its 7-inch Eee PC as well as its 10-inch, detailing that 95 percent of Eee netbooks will be 10-inch models and 7-inch models will make up the other 5 percent, lending weight to the idea that the middling 8.9-inch sized panel is a sort of no man’s land market, which is neither big enough nor small enough.

This will likely bring about all kinds of trouble for Intel’s Atom. While HP is eager to see the restrictions eased so it can bring out bigger, Atom-based netbooks, Intel is probably going to be a little wary of making the Atom available for anything bigger than an 11-inch panel (the current restriction stands at a reported 10.2 inches, Dell Mini 12 aside). Intel has certain limitations on the Atom so as not to cannibalize sales of their more expensive CPUs. Basically, if you want to build a something bigger than 10.2 (and you're not Dell), you’ll have to use a more expensive processor like a Celeron or Pentium Dual Core.

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  • mdillenbeck
    Personally, if I am going to go to 10.2" screens I might as well stick to my 12" tablet PC.

    Would having a touch/stylus screen make the smaller screens more popular? Perhaps - however, with increased cost and probably questionable control, it may have done little to help this segment.

    Unfortunately, it looks like the netbook market is about to die - instead, it is transforming into a low-cost laptop market. Those who want pocket-able will have to start looking at the UMPC market than wait and hope for netbooks to shrink.
  • hellwig
    I don't get why the 8.9" was so unsuccessful. Compared to my 7" Cloudbook, my fiancee's 8.9" Acer is noticieably bigger. The 10" is bigger physically, but thats it. The monitor has the same resolution, and hardware internally is the same, it just has bigger pixels and bigger keys. For chrissake, if the keyboard is TOO small for you, get a normal laptop. You can get a Celeron or AMD laptop for the same price as a 10" netbook, and it will be more powerful too (Dell offers 15" w/ Celeron for $449).

    The only reason HP and Asus and the like want to make bigger notebooks with an Atom inside is to increase its profits. Cheaper hardware inside means more profit, pure and simple. Anyone buying a 13" "netbook" is a sucker.
  • eddieroolz
    If I was to get a netbook today, I'll buy a 8.9incher. I'm not going to ride along with the OEMs on this one - screw them. Pocketability is the central concept to netbooks and if you force it to be larger then what's the point of a netbook? Might as well get a laptop.