The decline of the netbook market has been already seen last year. The iPad was blamed for it. Still in the crucial holiday season netbook sales where still decent and Black Friday circulars had several great deals on netbooks. This might change for Black Friday 2011. In the Microsoft earnings call the company said (via Business Insider) that they saw a netbook sales drop by 40%. Microsoft did not explicitely say that the iPad is the reason for it, but what else should it be?
When Asus pioneered the netbook the concept struck a chord with consumers. Low cost, small computers that do everything you need. Today the iPad or other Android based tablets are seen as the minimalist computer. The difference is that tablets are outshining netbooks in coolness. This Black Friday retailers will be putting Android Tablet deals in the center of their computer offerings. At the time of last Black Friday the Android tablets have not been really there yet to compete with the iPad, but the new dual-core Honeycomb tablets are there.
I expect exciting discounts on tablets like the Xoom and others. We might even see finally real Black Friday iPad deals from Apple retail partners like Best Buy, Amazon and Walmart. Last year Apple offered a $41 discount on the original iPad in the Apple Black Friday Sale. The iPad 2 will only be featured in Black Friday sales if the supply issue has completely eased. Right now you still wait 1-2 weeks for shipment of online ordered iPads.
I also do not expect much innovation in the netbook sector for 2011. The bestselling netbook on Amazon right now is the $279 Toshiba NB505-n508BL 10.1-inch netbook. This netbook runs on the Intel Atom N455 with 1.66Ghz. Other features include 1GB RAM, 250GB HDD and over 8 hour battery life. This is a decent netbook at a good price point way below what a tablet sells for. I don't see anything netbook makers can do to make netbooks as cool as a tablet.