The rise of the subnotebook computer … and the fall of the computing economy

Asus-Eee-subnotebook-computer Slashdot notes a story that quotes a big wheel at Sony as being worried about the potential mainstream appeal of the Asus Eee and its ilk:

“”If (the Eee PC from) Asus starts to do well, we are all in trouble. That’s just a race to the bottom,” said Mike Abary.”

The Slashdot poster observes:

“Presumably by ‘we’ he means all the hardware manufacturers who sell over-priced, full-fat laptops. […] Looks like what’s bad for Sony may be good for the consumer.”

In the short run, certainly, he may be right – but what about the long game? A drop in hardware prices for us consumers would be nice, sure, but there’s bound to be more consequences than that. [image by Scrambled Egg]

This is an issue that Charles Stross broached late last year (right after purchasing his own Eee, naturally). You should read all of Charlie’s thoughts about the inevitable (and long-overdue) commoditization of computing technology, because they add weight to his final blow:

“… how deep will be the recession that follows once the personal computing industry deflates to its natural value (i.e. peanuts)?”


One thought on “The rise of the subnotebook computer … and the fall of the computing economy”

  1. Bah, I didn’t believe that when Charlie posted it. When laptops are a commodity, then the industry will move on to something else — as they should. Rent-seeking behavior will *cause* recession in the long run, because the big guys become parasitic and quash innovation. How many billions has Microsoft siphoned out of the world economy?

    I don’t buy it.

    There will simply be some other reason to continue to pursue the arms race — but not at the expense of everybody wanting a front end.

    My guess: voice recognition, then natural language processing. Both of those are going to take a crapload of processing power, and probably specialized hardware to run.

    This is just a sign that the WIMP interface is old and mature now. It shouldn’t be the place where smart money is investing, but that doesn’t mean there are no places for smart money to invest.

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