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Farewell, netbook! Welcome, "low-cost small notebook PC!"
If Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) has its way, that's the term we will be using for the small Web-centric computing gadgets that have been all the rage since last year.
Quite a mouthful, isn't it? But don't worry, because the name will never take off. Besides, who is Microsoft to be doling out buzzwords? Mr. Softy isn't a tastemaker. Nor is it a fraternity elder assigned with dishing out nicknames to its brothers.
It's clear why Microsoft wants to dump the "netbook" moniker. The software giant is still reeling from its initial decision to power netbooks later this year with a crippled version of Windows 7 that will allow users to run just three applications at a time. The company backed away from that miscue, but the damage was already done.
Netbook users don't want to pay a premium for a Windows operating system anyway, especially when open-source solutions such as Ubuntu -- already a popular choice with some netbook cradlers -- can also get them where they need to go. Microsoft will also have a hard time persuading netbook users to pay up for Microsoft Office when free cloud-computing productivity applications are available from the likes of Adobe (Nasdaq: ADBE ) and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) .
Maybe Microsoft thinks that taking the "net" out of "netbook" will make consumers forget that the holiday best-sellers are primarily Internet-surfing devices that don't necessarily need Microsoft products to power them. Or maybe Microsoft thinks that belittling netbooks with a "low cost" tag is one way to get consumers to pay more for full-sized laptops that contain higher-margin versions of its operating system.
Either way, this campaign isn't right. Can you imagine Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) lobbying to have the term "notebook PCs" replaced with "low-cost MacBooks" to set its slick machines apart?
Microsoft doesn't get it, or maybe it just doesn't want to. This company didn't give birth to netbooks, and it doesn't get to decide what the devices are called. Maybe some of the netbook's bigger manufacturers, such as Acer, or Asus, or even Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) -- the company behind the Atom chip that powers most netbooks -- should have a little more say in what we call these ultra-portable devices.
What's the deal with netbooks these days?