Lenovo President: Netbooks Will Be 'Swept Away' In A Few Years

During an interview with Channelweb.com at CES, Read talked about the growing netbook market and its effect on IT spending and revenue. When asked if netbooks were a threat to traditional laptop and notebook sales, Read said no.

"Hell, I think the core notebook space is still the heart of the market," Read said. "I think there's obviously some other segments that are doing really well like netbooks, but I actually think the smartbook segment will make a real impact in the next three years, and the netbook will be swept away into other segments."

Swept away? Read explained his view by saying that netbooks will continue to see higher functionality and performance and will begin to converge with traditional notebooks. In other words, smaller, cheaper laptops aren't going anywhere, and neither will low-power chips like Intel's Atom processor. But users will begin to demand that their mobile PCs have more functionality and become lighter and thinner, so the lines between notebooks and netbooks will eventually become indistinguishable, he said. "I think they'll just start to blend into notebooks and smartbooks after a couple years," Read said.

On the other hand, Read said a segment of the netbook market will get smaller and become more like the smartbook. Indeed, Lenovo bills its new Skylight series, which the company calls the industry's first ARM-based smartbook, as a cross between a netbook and a smartphone, utilizing 3G wireless broadband in a smaller form factor than a netbook. "Smartbooks have a lot of potential," Read said. "There's been an explosion of new technologies around 3G wireless. 3G technology has really impressed me here at the show, whether it's smartphones or smartbooks or digital cameras."

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As notebooks and netbooks converge, does that mean the form factor will get smaller? Read doesn't believe so.

"It's all about real estate," Read said. "Notebooks and laptops have to keep getting thinner and lighter and more powerful. But smaller? No. I think people will still want to watch their HD videos and run big applications. You can't do a PowerPoint presentation on a BlackBerry. So are people going to carry around laptops? No, but I think they'll still carry full-size notebooks."