Computerworld Top 10 Most Influential 2009 — #8 Netbooks

The countdown to the most influential of 2009 continues with our 8th place getter — Netbooks

Computerworld's Top 10 Most Influential for 2009 continues with our 8th place: Netbooks.

As the year draws to a close, it is time to recognise the people, products, organisations, trends and events that have had the greatest influence on the ICT industry and community. We have therefore launched the inaugural Computerworld Top 10 Most Influential.

Earlier this week Computerworld began counting down to the winner with one article each day from 10th place to number one.

We started on Monday with #10 — CSIRO's wireless patent win.

Yesterday, we took a look at #9 — Virtualisation.

Once we reach #1 in two week’s time, it will be over to you for the readers' choice award. If you don't agree with the panel of 12 (see below) you can still have your say on the most influential person, product, organisation, trend or event for 2009.

We’ll publish the results on the website and in the February/March issue of Computerworld magazine.

#8 Netbooks

Two years after Asustek introduced the first netbook, the Asus Eee PC 700, the smaller, lighter and cheaper devices have continued to be embraced by all comers and faced down many of their biggest critics.

Some thought netbooks would be 'just another fad' that would eventually join the throng of IT wannabes on the rubbish heap, but the mobile device category has done the complete opposite — shining brightly through one of the toughest economic years on record.

The PC market overall suffered severe drops as a result of the global economic downturn. In contrast, sales of netbooks continued to grow.

From a domestic economic perspective it is arguable that netbooks helped several of Australia's largest IT retailers, including Harvey Norman and JB Hi, avoid the damaging retail hits taken overseas. As is often the case, the numbers are telling.

Analyst firm, Gartner, predicted at the start of the year that 2009 PC shipments globally would fall by 11.9 per cent from last year. The expected decline would have been four times greater than that in 2001 after the dot-com bust.

But the consumer demand for netbooks — and other mobile devices such as laptops — meant that forecast after forecast by pretty much every analyst firm was beaten.

The latest expectations from Gartner, the largest analyst firm in the world, are that mobile PC shipments will reach 162 million units this year, a 15.4 per cent increase over 2008. Mini notebooks, which are mostly comprised of netbooks, are expected to account for 29 million of that total.

The growth in netbook sales: 41.4 per cent.

Desktop shipments: A 9 per cent decline.

But it's not just sales at the register that have made netbooks influential this year. Aside from Apple, pretty much every major manufacturer has launched a netbook offering and plugged, pushed, peddled and promoted it with gusto since January.

Intel's Atom processor, which is used in netbooks, helped PC microprocessor makers sell record numbers of chips during the third quarter, according to market researcher IDC. And chip makers such as AMD and Via have refocused their operations to target the netbook trend.

On the operating system side, where netbooks pushed Microsoft to extent the life of Windows XP, the form factor saw a swathe of announcements in 2009 with Windows 7, Linux, Google's Chrome OS, Ubuntu Netbook Remix (UNR) and others such as Jolicloud competing for attention.

If you still don't think netbooks have been influential on the ICT industry and community this year, consider this: In 2009, the NSW Government decided that more than 200,000 high school students in the most populous state in the country would begin to use netbooks in their formative educational years.

The $110 million NSW Digital Education Revolution tender to supply 200,000 netbooks to 571 schools for year 9-12 students over the next four years was won by Lenovo with its IdeaPad S10e laptop in April. The device had to be under $500, weigh less than 1.75kg, be smaller than an A4 sheet of paper, have a minimum screen size of 8.9-inches and be able to boot up in less than five seconds.

Microsoft was selected as a software partner and will serve up the Windows 7 operating system and Office suite.

It is for these reasons and others such as the continued consumerisation of the workplace with the use of devices such as netbooks and smartphones, that the panel voted netbooks into 8th spot in the Computerworld Top 10 Most Influential for 2009.

See more stories on Netbooks

Two years on, netbooks on verge of big shake-up

PC desktop market will continue in the long term, Intel says

Netbooks disappoint consumers, says survey

PC market crash averted, says Gartner

Microprocessor sales reach record levels, says IDC

Acer debuts Windows 7 netbook

Nokia enters the netbook market with the Booklet 3G

Dell Inspiron Mini 10 netbook

PC shipments stronger than expected in Q2, IDC says

AMD slowly evolves with netbook demand

Next: Meet the panel

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