Companies like Amazon, Asus, and Apple are having some success selling small, portable gadgets used for reading the Internet, typing notes, listening to music, playing casual games, or in some specialised cases, watching movies or reading books.
- Netbooks are doing an adequate job serving as cheap, cramped mini laptops. Amazon’s top 11 computers are now netbooks. Gartner expects 21 million netbooks shipped worldwide this year.
- The iPod touch is a solid, if too small portable computer, and it’s selling very well — 16 million sold since launching in late 2007.
- And the Kindle — now Amazon’s top 2 best-selling electronics — is doing a fine job as a specialised device for wealthy bookworms. Amazon could sell 1 million Kindles this year.
But we still think the ultra-portable computing market is going to be led by a well-designed, all-purpose gadget that’s good at Web, reading, multimedia, and some games. Bigger than the iPod touch, a bit smaller than the Kindle DX, and not as cramped as a netbook. And we haven’t seen that yet.
It sounds like Apple’s “media pad” or “iPod touch HD” — supposedly in development — could do all of those well. If priced right, and designed as well as Apple’s other recent portables, it could do very well — zooming past netbooks and e-book readers on sales charts.