What can we learn from netbooks?

Netbooks are taking off.

They clearly address pent up demand and they are especially timely during this economic climate. They are simple, small and low cost. And as the New York Times points out they are breaking old business models. They easily connect to the internet and with most of our data in the cloud – well, you can see which way the wind is blowing.

Netbooks are just a start. I think the next family of products that will follow suit is the age old set top box.

The current state of the art set top box from your cable operator has multiple tuners, encoders to deal with analog broadcast, a hard disk, HD decoders and hardware based drm.

The next generation set top box will share many netbook attributes. Lower end CPU, drop the tuners, ethernet, small disk and HDMI. That’s it. They will be small, light and inexpensive. And just like your netbook comes ready with Firefox, your netbook STB will come with software like Boxee or something else to get you online quickly and easily.

I think the game console is the next target after that. Once games are all in the network we won’t be on this cycle of new game console. That will make life easier for developers (ever talk to early PS3 developers? the stories they tell. Oy). And it will be much easier for consumers.

Netbooks are teaching us a lot. Thats for sure.