The Netbook Breaks Up With SSDs, Asks For Friendship Ring Back

Anyone who has been keeping  up with netbook news is bound to notice that mechanical hard drives are becoming far more common than solid state drives (much to my annoyance, by the way).  Our observations are borne out by hard data, it seems, as DRAMeXchange revealed.

According to the company’s research, in Q1 2008, 70 per cent of netbooks came with an SSD. The following quarter that figure dipped to around 66 per cent before plunging to 30 per cent. This quarter, the ratio will fall further, to 20 per cent, then down to just ten per cent in Q1 2009. By this time next year, the forecaster forecast, it’ll be down to eight per cent.

There are a lot of benefits to SSDs — no moving parts, more shock resistant, etc — but they’re more expensive per GB and the cheaper SSDs which netbook vendors use tend to have worse performance than 5,400 rpm hard drives.  The bottom line is that consumers want a lot of space and they want it for less money, just as with traditional notebooks. I’m personally sad to see SSDs slipping behind because I appreciate not having to worry about my hard drive as my netbook rattles around in my bag.  Then again, I don’t need Windows XP, a bunch of programs, or a lot of storage space.  Consumers have already shown that they do prefer XP and buyers in general seem to think that more hard drive space equals better… something. JKOnTheRun feels that this indicates that netbooks will soon become “simply small notebooks” that have similar capabilities to regular ones. Source: Register Hardware Hat Tip: JKOnTheRun

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  1. Smirnoff Says:

    This is true, people want a cheap, compact, long battery life laptop, which is always what Netbooks and UMPCs were heading for, niche OS’ and poor performance limited most older products, killing their lifespan and use. Equally so PDAs and mobile phones are evolving more towards what UMPCs were, with greater industry standards (PPC & Symbian OS, Java console support, etc), it all comes down to market requirements and it is a huge market with many different requirements. People want the power of a PC in a mobile form, the biggest limitations/considerations are screen size, battery life and functionality, now that the screens have improved to be compact, high quality, power efficient devices, CPUs & storage allows full desktop OS and applications to be run, and all this can be powered with a fairly small and lightweight battery we are seeing the whole marketplace be shuffled around.

    As for SSDs they are good and definately are the future, but currently their capacity is too low, 4, 8, 16 or even 32 GB is nothing nowdays, a few films (700MB each); TV episodes (350MB each) music albums (80MB each) ontop of WinXP and any applications installed (>3GB) will eat up 16GB in no time and would require me to tailor everything I wanted again each time I was going on a trip, but with a 120GB+ hard-disk, I can keep weeks of entertainment on my netbook aswell as all the apps and utils I wanted without the hassle of constant changes, for the same cost, pretty much the same performance and not alot less battery life..

    As SSDs get faster, cheaper and have higher capacities they will begin to take the lead and become the frequent choice, but atm it is early days for the technology and as a result they are too limited and far too expensive.

  2. David Says:

    “buyers in general seem to think that more hard drive space equals better… something”

    That “something” would be disk space. No clue why you’d write as if the appeal of having more disk space, all other things being equal, is a mystery to you. Your personally not desiring it is far from an excuse to ignore its potential merits to others.

    That said, I think the conclusion is wrong. It would be interesting to see how much of a premium many netbook users are placing on the extra 40GB of the now-standard 120 or 160GB hard drive choices. My guess is that there wouldn’t be much. More likely people want a certain minimum space threshold to be above, but beyond that the gains don’t matter as much.

    The appeal to netbooks is the intersection of portability and price. Think of how loathe makers are to provide 2GB RAM, certainly nice on an XP netbook, because a $20 premium matters in this market. SSDs for notebooks tended to increase the price noticably for not just a drastic reduction in disk space, but a near-crippling one. 4GB SSD with XP installed as some earlier models offered? Not a lot of wiggle room. However, SSDs are only going to become bigger and less expensive. I’d certainly go for a 16GB SSD over any hard drive, if there wasn’t a price premium. As it stands now, I’ve got to give it thought.

    Just because the absolute and price-per-gig prices for SSDs is currently a negative doesn’t mean it will always be the case. I disagree with the straight-line projection that SSDs will disappear. I think they will rebound and soon overtake hard drives in just 2-3 years.

  3. Windy Says:

    Exactly. The author of this… whatever it is, sounded like an imbicile. I mean, they admit that they are slower, have less space, but still lament that they aren’t being chosen. Well, first, if you are even 1/2 technically capable, you can always go out and grab an SSD and put it in. The drive isn’t soldered into the machine.

    Not only that, but the author seems to be complaining that netbooks are becoming as capable as laptops. Um… huh? What, exactly, is the problem with that? Heck, I’ll be happy when my phone is as capable as my laptop, can project a keyboard on the table in front of it and a holographic screen in front of my face, and where I type on the table causes it to react as if I hit a key. Sure, probably at least 50-100 years off, who knows… but crying about netbooks becoming as capable as laptops is like complaining that my phone does more than just make calls anymore and doesn’t require a long wire that is hooked up to the wall.

  4. john Says:

    SSDs is benefit. just as you say, it no moving parts, more shock resistant. really intresting post.

  5. odinchong Says:

    Does the falling of SSD show that: SSD is really not suitable for Netbooks Market?

    I would like to re-define what is netbook from Wikipedia: “A netbook is a very small, light-weight, low-cost, energy-efficient laptop, primarily used for internet based services such as web browsing, e-mailing and instant messaging.” In short, netbooks is the target of who want a easy-carry notebook with a lower price. Yes, Netbook is the combination of practical use, easy-carry and cheaper price.

    If customers do not concern about the price but concern about performance and mobility, who are going to buy the high performance but slim’s notebook like Macbook Air or Samsung X360, but not slow MLC SSD Netbooks. If customers do not concern about the practical use but concern about the mobility, they will buy UMPC like Samsung Q1 or even iphone, but not Netbook.

    Right, I need a netbook, because I am quite poor but I still need a small and thinner notebook who are easy to carry and easy to send an email or doing some word-processing job when I am going out. I don’t care about its speed because I’m not going to play FIFA 2009 on my little netbook, and I don’t care about its reliability because all of my notebooks has been dropped on the floor without never data loss, and I really need a XP because the PC amateur like my parents and my wife don’t know how to change wallpapers what they like. Right, Netbook represents CHEAP and SIMPLE but not advanced IT concept.

    Anyway, I’m so regret about the falling of SSD in Netbook Market, but I’m not sad about it. SSD? just suitable for Macbook Air or UMPC but not Netbook at all.

  6. SanDisk Says:

    We see the use of SSDs in the netbook space increasing for a number of reasons. As David points out, the main appeal of Netbooks is the intersection of portability and price. SSDs have an advantage over HHDs in the areas of size, weight and power consumption with recent advancements driving down costs, even below HHDs in some cases.

    If you are interested in more information on SSDs in the Netbook Market, SanDisk has created a website called the SSD Academy that offers consumers and professionals more information, There’s also an educational video giving a general overview of the Netbook Market that you may want to check out,—a-new-storage-paradigm.

  7. Rob Says:

    Just my opinion, but the reason we should be concerned about netbooks becoming more like notebooks, is that we reduce choice and the manufacturers do their age old trick of telling us all that we NEED more of this and more of that. It all just ends up as bloat.

    As a person, think about efficiency. Think about what you need.

    On my netbook, I live in a browser. I have Ubuntu Linux installed, I have a media player installed and Open Office for all the small things I cant do with Google Docs, Google Calendar, Dropbox and myriad other web apps.

    By pushing the specs on netbooks manufacturers are creating the margin for themselves, simple as that. If you own a netbook and you require 160gb of hard disk space, fully loaded XP with plethora desktop applications, then you bought the wrong machine. Buy a laptop.

    Netbook is a niche, its low cost and the technology including SSDs fits the bill. It just does what it needs to do.

    That all said, if al this drives manufacturers to produce smaller, faster, more efficient machines at lower netbook costs, then I’m a happy man too.

    Cheaper, larger capacity, more energy efficient, more robust SSDs can only be a winner for all?

  8. Teppo Says:

    Rob, saying that someone bought the wrong machine if one simply wants more versatility isn’t quite accurate. After all that is just one opinion. Starting from what can be considered the first “real” netbook, the original Asus Eee PC, many people were pushing it to the limit trying to do more with less, so to speak.

    Personally I guess I am in that category in that what the netbooks are becoming is exactly what I’m looking for – a more miniaturized and energy efficient laptop, a true carry-everywhere machine with good battery life and connectivity (both peripheral and communication wise).

    What comes to the HD issue, currently I simply don’t see the SSD drives as being worth it at all – pricey, not versatile due to space constraints, and currently not that fast on netbooks. I like carrying my music with me, and my netbook nicely replaces a cd player even in my home stereo system, while actually draining equal or less power than my cd/dvd player does. As such, an SSD simply doesn’t have the capacity I need. Not to mention I have a big backlog of older games that work fine on the netbook (I’m becoming more environmentally aware recently and as such am loathe to use my power-hogging desktop machine), but also take up space. End result is that my 160GB drive is effectively full, less than a week after I bought the darn thing. I’m looking to expand it to a 320GB one (as well as get another gig of RAM) as soon as I can.

    I’ll agree though, that while there’s a market for these kind of more versatile devices, there’s certainly one for the cheaper machines that are literally not much more than netbooks – fit for browsing, email, taking notes.

  9. r4i m3i Says:

    That all said, if al this drives manufacturers to produce smaller, more efficient machines at lower netbook costs, then I’m a happy man too.

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