Once the rising stars of the personal computing industry, netbooks have fallen out of grace as of late, replaced in consumer's hearts by more portable tablets or more powerful ultra-slim laptops. Their future is uncertain and at least one manufacturer seems ready to ditch the category altogether and focus on more expensive ultraportable laptops and ultrabooks instead, if an email allegedly sent to trading partners is to be believed.
The email is quoted by French site Blogeee and reads: "Following the introduction of our new strategy in 2012, we will discontinue our 10.1-inch (netbook) product range in Q1 2012, in favor of ultraportables (11.6 and 12 inches) and ultrabooks to be launched in 2012."
Samsung's NF310 netbook was featured in our Q3 2011 laptop buying guide
The low cost of netbooks combined with their ability to handle most basic tasks made them quite successful for a few years. They were perfect as affordable travel companions or secondary systems. However, the form factor never really evolved that much. Every device was running pretty much the same underpowered hardware under the hood -- an Intel Atom chip, up to 320GB of storage and up to 3GB of RAM -- and there wasn't a lot that OEMs could do to differentiate due to their increasingly thinner profit margins.
Meanwhile, tablets have taken over the $200-$500 price range excelling at things like web browsing, email, some gaming, and a lot more through native apps -- all while offering unrivaled battery life.
It shouldn't be that surprising to see Samsung discontinuing netbooks in favor of more profitable products. They've already moved into tablets with their relatively successful Galaxy Tab line, while ultrabooks are being heavily pushed by Intel as a way to boost PC sales amid declining growth in the industry.