Rumors of an Apple Netbook or Internet tablet have resurfaced once again. Predictably, tech pundits are debating the likely specs, not least if the device will feature the traditional clam shell form factor of current Netbooks on the market, all of which feature a physical QWERTY keyboard, or be an all touch screen device – think iPod touch only much bigger. However, perhaps the most important design decision for Apple will be whether to build the company’s future Netbook on an open or closed platform.
In other words, will Jobs and co. go down the same App Store route as the iPhone and iPod touch (closed), in which the platform is tightly controlled and all third-party software is sold by Apple and has to go through the company’s vetting process. Or will Apple take a more traditional PC approach, and like its range of desktop and laptop computers, fully open up the platform to a laissez-faire ecosystem of third-party software and hardware developers.
If I had to place a bet, I think it will be the former – closed. If only to ensure that a low cost Apple Netbook (or Internet tablet) has a very targeted use case and market, and by limiting the device’s functionality, doesn’t eat too much into sales of the company’s higher end and more open devices.