Smaller and lighter than most textbooks, “netbooks”—the latest generation of computers used for light computing and surfing the web—are causing heartburn among PC manufacturers who see the low-cost innovation as a threat to already-slim profit margins, the New York Times reports. Perhaps more worrisome to giants like Microsoft and Dell is that the trend could signal a major industry shift.
The upstarts are challenging the notion that consumers prefer their machines come with built-in computing power rather than use what’s available online via so-called cloud computing. One Silicon Valley startup is launching a $300 “net-top,” offering basic functions while using a fraction of the electricity, and at a fraction of the size, of traditional desktops. (Read more Hewlett-Packard stories.)