Qualcomm CEO Admits That Smartbooks Are Practically Dead

You could argue that smartbooks never really had much of a chance once netbooks began to sell for below $299, but Qualcomm and a number of partners definitely put a lot of effort into the category. Initially launched in early 2009, these mid-sized notebook/handheld hybrids were meant to be slotted between the average smartphone and notebook, giving you a third device that would last all day and provide a better browsing experience than what was available on a phone.

But two major hiccups happened over the course of the past year to really derail the popularity of smartbooks. One is the proliferation of netbooks. Netbooks ended up being "portable enough" for most people, and Android / iOS phones ended up being powerful enough to handle mobile browsing and communication needs. The second is the iPad, and even Qualcomm's CEO admits it. In a recent media event, Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs confessed that the iPad had already occupied the space that smartbooks were hoping to occupy. The iPad provides a mobile computing solution that's portable and lasts all day; that's exactly what smartbooks were attempting to sell themselves on, but as most anyone would agree, competing with Apple isn't easy.

Jacobs said that the iPad as well as tablets that will shortly hit the market nail the concept of "always-on, all-day devices," and now that the market is being populated by slates, there's just no room for smartbooks. We can't really disagree. Smartbooks were simply too slow to materialize, and they just felt too much like large UMPCs (which also never really took off) to be mainstream hits. It's probably best to cut losses now and focus on the blossoming smartphone market; after all, a 4" and 5" smartphone needs a powerful processor, and that's where Qualcomm comes in.