Have we entered the era of the netbook? For those not paying attention a netbook is an ultraportable notebook. It's also an ultra-affordable notebook most often priced below $500. In recent months, the form factor has become so popular sales figures are rivaling Apple's iPhone, according to sales data.
According to the latest smartphone sales numbes from Gartner and DisplaySearch's netbook sales numbers, 4.7 million iPhones were shipped in Q3 2008, while a whopping 5.6 million netbooks were sold in the same period.
Actually, debates sparked a couple of months ago about Apple releasing a small notebook computer, in the form of a netbook. But Steve Jobs seemed to think that iPhones can do the same things as netbooks, even going on saying that "not a lot of them (netbooks) getting sold."
[ Are you one of those imagining what an Apple netbook would be like? | For more on products in the hot netbook category, check out our hands-on looks at Asus' Eee PC 901 and 1000 and the N10 netbook, the Cloudbook Max netbook, Elitegroup's G10IL mini-laptop, MSI's Wind low-cost laptop, Giga-byte's M912X mini-laptop, HP's Mini-Note netbook, and Acer's Aspire one. ]
In comparison, netbooks don't totally intersect with iPhone's market. Many people who don't need a fully fledged laptop are going for netbooks to serve their Web-surfing needs. On the other hand, many buy iPhones for the multimedia capabilities combined with a phone and for mobile e-mail and browsing the Web -- things that netbooks do quite well also.
However, with netbooks selling well (Q4 figures are expected to be strong also), we might just see an Apple netbook sometime next year. Apple doesn't usually rush products to the market, and if we will see Apple's netbook, it definitely won't be cheap.
PC World is an InfoWorld affiliate.