• français
  • RSS
Impact - A Blog by INM

Small is In: :Where is the small devices trend headed?

February 18, 2009 by Tanya McGinnity

The move towards smaller and less commercially dependent computing systems demonstrates the interconnected nature of market conditions as financially strapped consumers are opting for these new breeds of mini-systems causing fears for the PC manufacturers who are growing more concerned with the economic impact of this trend.

In an article in the New York Times Technology section titled “Smaller PC’s Cause worry for Industry”, Matt Richtel wrote about how these smaller technologies are reducing the profit margins of the old kids on the block such as Microsoft, HP, and Intel.

“When I talk to PC vendors, the No. 1 question I get is, how do I compete with these netbooks when what we really want to do is sell PCs that cost a lot more money?” said J. P. Gownder, an analyst with Forrester Research.” 

ot only are the wallets of PC manufactures feeling the pinch, but many are literally feeling pain in their bodies. The trend towards smaller devices presents a whole new series of challenges for usability concerns and ergonomics specialists. “You can never get positioned properly when typing on a notebook," says Deborah Quilter, coauthor of The Repetitive Strain Injury Recovery Book (Walker and Company, 1998). "When you have the notebook in the proper position for your hands, you have to look down too far to see the screen and that strains your neck. If you have the notebook in the proper position for viewing the screen, you risk straining your arms and hands to reach the keyboard." Manufacturers can only go so small before these systems become too small to allow for a positive interaction with their interfaces. The trade off resulting from skimping on a quality experience at the expense of making the smallest computer possible won’t provide the user with any additional benefits beyond portability.

This seems to be a small consideration for many consumers as worldwide subnotebook shipments are expected to reach 5.2 million units in 2008 and 8 million units in 2009, according to market-research firm Gartner Inc. The market is expected to continue its strong growth, and there could be as many as 50 million subnotebooks shipped in 2012.