Will Apple's 'Netbook' be open or closed?

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.

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last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

3 Responses to “Will Apple's 'Netbook' be open or closed?”

  1. I’d be inclined to agree, and wouldn’t be at all surprised if it actually ran iPhone-compatible apps. (Wasn’t there a rumour about a larger iPhone a while back?)

    While the Macs are actual computers with serious capabilities, the Apple consumer devices have been made as friendly as possible for non-technical users by eliminating anything that might require any real configuration or installation. The upshot is a very closed box, which is an anathema to someone like me but very useful for someone who doesn’t want to deal with the faff of a “real” computer on a secondary device.

  2. Adore says:

    I think it won’t be closed…

  3. Fanfoot says:

    It will be closed.

    I think they’re probably getting pretty used to the BILLION DOLLAR sales over at the iPhone app store. Not that this thing will be as big a hit, but still, they can take a cut of every application they sell if its closed. Which they can’t if its open.

    If they’re locking down the headphones on the freaking iPod flea to get their cut, I don’t see how you can think otherwise.

    That said, it depends on the form factor. If its a big iPod Touch, then it will be closed. If its a netbook, with a keyboard (even if its a convertible), then its more likely to be open. If its a MID with a big touchscreen and some kind of mini-keyboard on its face… well, it won’t be that…