Only a few years ago, netbooks were the hot go-to companion device for folks who wanted something between a smartphone and a full-fledged notebook. Although they sacrificed high performance and full functionality, netbooks offered an extremely affordable and portable package that was still competent enough for a light productivity session. Their price and size also made them an attractive solution for kids.
With a heavy backing by most PC manufacturers, especially Acer and Asus, it seemed like every day brought the launch of a new Atom-powered mini-laptop during the form factor's climax, at which point it had become the day's fastest growing PC segment. Since then, the rise of tablets and Intel's ultrabook initiative have largely killed netbooks as we knew them, and the final nail in the coffin will soon be hammered.
In 2010 -- the year the iPad arrived -- vendors shipped more than 32 million netbooks, according to IHS iSuppli. Two years later, that figure fell to 14.1 million and it's expected to slip just below four million units this year. By 2014, iSuppli predicts that system builders will only move about 264,000 netbooks and that paltry sum will evaporate entirely by the following year, marking the netbook's ultimate conclusion.
Companies including Samsung, Dell and Toshiba have long exited the market in pursuit of higher-margin categories, while Acer and Asus are expected to follow suit and halt netbook production with no new designs planned for 2013, according to a report by DigiTimes earlier this year. Considering those two are out of the game, you could say the netbook is already dead, it just won't be official until supplies run dry.