Over the last several months I’ve been saying to anyone that listens (including at Web09 on Friday), that Netbooks are going to be one of the most significant tech industry opportunities that has occurred for a while.
The impact on Google Android and Chrome in Q3 this year will put pressure on Microsoft to reduce the cost of the Windows and Office Client which I predict will drive a massive secondary effect where we will see substantial innovation in services from Microsoft. Microsoft has a huge war chest and thousands of smart people to throw at services.
I also believe that low cost connected devices will be be taken to market via telco’s, often with a low (or no) up front cost in exchange for a data plan commitment.
Today Windows 7 Starter was announced: Microsoft Gambles on Windows 7 ‘Starter’
The strategy is one of the ways the software giant is responding to inexpensive portable computers called netbooks, a bright spot in the gloomy personal-computer business that is causing many companies to modify their business plans.
Jim Zemlin, the Linux Foundation’s executive director, thinks Microsoft faces the greatest pressure as the computer market takes on more aspects of the cellphone market — with carriers subsidizing hardware prices with fees for data-service plans.
This is really interesting. Microsoft’s approach to Netbook computing is to offer a limited version of Windows that is limited to only run 3 applications at a time. That is completely logical from a Microsoft perspective (and I should have picked that – I didn’t).
Will it be free? I doubt it. Will it be cheap? Of course – but I’m just reading Predictably Irrational which has some great experiments on the power of ‘free’. There is a massive difference between cheap and free. They will have to compete with free. This is a big call for Microsoft and one that I don’t think will be successful. But they should absolutely still try it. This will be a fascinating experiment to watch.
I think we’ll still end up in the same place. It all becomes about the services.
So very, very interesting that some of the announcements you would expect under my Netbook hypothesis are beginning to fire.