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How that fruit company killed the netbook (charts!)

netbookRemember netbooks, those underpowered but very small and inexpensive laptops? If ever anything came and went in a whirlwind, that’s the example to we’d point to. Netbook sales are now a mere shadow of their former glory.

To some extent, netbooks were probably hampered by the wave of lightweight laptops that started appearing a couple of years ago. They weren’t quite as small, but small enough, and much more powerful. What they weren’t, however, was cheap. In that way they could not supersede the netbook.

So we’re betting the real netbook killer was the rise of tablet computers. This in itself isn’t exactly news, but we love being able to visualize trends. It’s usually a great way to confirm a hunch you may have about something like this. Let’s have a look at some charts from Google Trends and you’ll see what we mean.

We’ll take the United States as the example, but the worldwide view is similar.

netbook trend

It’s clear that the interest in netbooks peaked at the end of 2009 (the holiday season, as you can see by the cyclical nature of the graph). In spite of some peaks in interest in netbooks around Christmas it’s been downhill ever since.

Now let’s add interest in tablets to this chart.

netbook vs tablet trend

Note the peak at the beginning of 2010. That’s when a certain fruit company introduced its dashing new tablet to the world. That’s also when interest in netbooks started to wane.

Coincidence? Nah…

Now, just for fun, let’s add the fruit company tablet to this chart as well.

netbook tablet ipad trend

If nothing else, this last chart shows how vastly the general interest in the iPad outstrips the general interest in tablets. It’s not so strange that Apple currently dominates that market by a mile.

So rather than saying that tablets killed the netbook, you could say that Apple, and specifically the iPad, killed it.

Image credit: Netbook image via Wikimedia Commons.

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