Forrester: Netbooks becoming more like mobiles

Analyst highlights potential challenges to the channel if devices move away from x86 processors
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A leading research firm has warned that netbooks could change the face of the IT industry, moving it closer to the telecoms channel.

According to the latest report by Forrester, a combination of netbooks moving away from x86-based processors, and the increasing influence of mobile and communications dealers could see the devices become more like the iPhone than a laptop.

It said that Microsoft's reliance on Windows XP to hold off Linux has left it in a precarious position and meant that any move towards ARM-based processors meant that it was at the greatest risk of any company in the netbook sector.

“Microsoft won the first-generation netbook OS war after a shaky start by extending the life of Windows XP," stated the Forrester research. "But that is neither sustainable nor desirable for their firm as we approach the launch of Windows 7."

It added that any move towards an ARM-based platform would blur the lines between today’s smartphones and netbooks.

"European telcos, particularly those promoting mobile broadband, have been giving away – or at least heavily subsidizing – netbooks for the best part of the year. Netbooks could end up looking more like the iPhone than like a traditional laptop."