Remember Steve Jobs demolishing the whole idea of netbooks back at Apple’s iPad launch in January? I’m a netbook fan, but I still found his takedown awfully entertaining.
Jobs was, of course, positioning the iPad as Apple’s answer to the netbook. But that didn’t make the iPad a netbook, or anything very much like a netbook at all. It was sort of like comparing the world’s best motorcycle to a bunch of ho-hum subcompact cars.
But if the rumors are true, Apple will soon announce a new version of its MacBook Air thin-and-light notebook with an 11.6″ display and a pricetag meaningfully lower than the current Air. Any such machine would still cost much more than a run-of-the-mill netbook, and have a far higher cool factor–and at 11.6″, it could have the acceptably comfy keyboard that smaller netbooks often lack. Even so, it may be as close to an “Apple netbook” as we’ll see. And assuming that such a product is indeed imminent, it’ll be fascinating to see Apple make a machine with at least a hint of netbookishness after the world stopped paying all that much attention to netbooks–and years after pundits gave up insisting that the company needed to get into the game.