Dell Mini 12 Netbook Retiring, Mini 9's Time Limited
Dell confirmed that the Inspiron Mini 12 "will ride off into the sunset" and that 10-inch screens are the "sweet spot" for netbooks. Also, the Mini 9 netbook is available again for a limited time, as Dell seemingly clears inventory and looks to strike a balance between netbook prices and sizes.
For Dell, 10-inch screens are the sweet spot for netbooks, and so it is
Inspiron Mini 12 netbook line. The Mini 9, which was retired for a time, is
being brought back for a limited engagement.
"So, should you read anything into this as far as Dell's commitment to the netbook space?" Lionel Menchaca wrote on the Dell blog. "Nope. It really boils down to this: For a lot of customers, 10-inch displays are the sweet spot for netbooks. That's why we offer two different 10-inch Inspiron netbooks for Mini 10 and Mini 10v."
For now the Mini 12, along with the Mini 9, which Menchaca reports Dell has temporarily taken out of retirement, is available through the DellOutlet.
Dell first introduced the Mini 12 in Japan on Oct. 26. It featured a 12.1-inch display, an Intel Atom Silverthorne processor-the version created for MIDs-and, unlike the sub-$400 price tags of most netbooks, a retail price of approximately $600.
"I think for the purposes that most people want to use a netbook, 10 inches is fine, and 12 inches is too expensive," John Spooner, a senior analyst with Technology Business Research, told eWEEK. "My guess is that they're telling the truth, and they're not getting the sales on that machine that they may be expected.
"I think people do the math and say, 'It's a 12-inch screen, but it won't give me the performance,' so they go for a CULV [consumer ultra-low voltage] machine," Spooner added. "The HP Pavilion DV2 [for example] is about $600, and it gives you significantly more power than a netbook, totally adequate performance, and the 12-inch screen is nice."
Dell's Menchaca additionally wrote on the Dell blog, "On the Latitude side, the Latitude 2100 netbook is finding a home in schools all over the place. Portability is one of the key points for netbook customers. Larger notebooks require a little more horsepower to be really useful."
Size, price point and horsepower are the primary features of netbooks, which have continued to see growth while other areas of the PC market have flagged. These features have also made them ideal for classrooms, where small fingers don't mind the smallish keyboards, functionality beyond Internet surfing and word processing aren't in high demand, and low price points make it feasible to purchase media carts equipped with a device for each child in a classroom.
Gateway and Hewlett-Packard also have netbooks geared toward students.
"The economics of netbooks make a lot of sense for schools," Spooner agrees. "The Dell [netbook] also has some interesting features, like the -tattle tale light' that lets you know if a kid is goofing off on the Internet, and the antimicrobial keyboard. ... The main thing, though, is the price."