If you were hoping CES 2013 might bring about a netbook resurgence you may want to brace yourself: ASUS and Acer announced Sunday that they’ve stopped manufacturing netbooks.
Netbooks may have been doomed from the start, but the beginning of their five year journey shook the technology industry to its core. The tiny Atom processors that powered first generation netbooks couldn’t run Windows Vista, forcing Microsoft to finally focus on cutting crap and cruft out of Windows. They also gave Linux its first real shot at the desktop market, a chance ultimately squashed by an undead Windows XP and consumer confusion (I have fond and not-so-fond memories of hours spent trying to help my school librarian fix the awful Linux installation on his EEE PC). Their low price point was the catalyst for Apple’s research into creating a lower cost computer that wasn’t crippled and compromised, an investigation that helped create the first iPad, and introduced computers to all kinds of neglected, price conscious markets.
Using them may never have been that much fun, but if you can tear yourself away from your tablets and smartphones for just a minute you might want to pour one out for the lowly netbook—without them we never would have gotten to where we are today.