Intel Numbers Raise a Question About the Netbook

Buried inside Intel’s (INTC) blowout numbers for the first quarter was a statistic that raised a question about one of the most talked-about tech products of the last three years. Could the netbook be running out of steam?

The answer may not be simple. While Intel argues that netbooks are doing just fine, it’s possible that they could make even more money if they are wrong.

To understand that paradox, recall a few attributes about this new computer category. These are small notebooks, typically priced at $350 or less, which are typically powered by a low-end Intel chip called Atom. Heavily promoted by PC makers like Asustek and Acer–and egged on by Intel–netbooks were a hot item even as the recession was at its peak.

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