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An anonymous IT industry member gets the topic of ultrabooks off their chest

Soapbox: Are ultrabooks just netbooks?

Every month we invite a member of the industry to anonymously air their grievances about whatever winds them up…

Sometimes, when I’m in a bad mood, I ask – what was the point of netbooks in the first place?

I remember when they first came out, they seemed to fill a niche. They were smaller, they were cheaper and they were designed as low-cost web access devices. If they’d have been invented maybe five years earlier, I think they’d have had a much bigger impact on things than they did.

But what are we supposed to do with them now? It seems they lost all value the second Steve Jobs got on stage and said that netbooks weren’t better at anything when he introduced the first iPad.

So now I’ve got these devices and I show them to customers. I tell them what it does. “Oh like an iPad?” they say. Yes, but it’s not an iPad. “Oh like a laptop?” Yes but it’s not a laptop.

Once upon a time, you could tell your customer what the specs were, what the screen size was and that would be enough. These days your PC is a ‘lifestyle product’. You carry it around with you, so it’s got to make a statement – and the statement that netbooks seem to make is “Yesterday”.

The problem is that I look at ultrabooks – those ever-so-thin laptops – and I can’t help seeing netbooks 2.0. Only without the attractive price point.

The sort of customer who values the weight and boot time of a machine over the specs is the same customer who’ll come back six months later after they’ve filled it with porn and complained that it’s not as fast as it used to be. I would say thanks for the repeat business, but I notice that these types of machines are getting harder and harder to repair. I certainly won’t be buying them in.

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