Will Netbooks Launch SSDs Into The Mainstream?

There's little arguing the fact that SSDs have already carved out a niche in today's computing world, but by and large, traditional hard drives still rule the roost. Prohibitive prices, small capacity options and limited availability have all worked to keep solid state drives from breaking into the mainstream, but a recent writeup over at Micron's Advanced Storage Blog suggests that all of that could change if the right conditions exist.

As it stands, SSDs are generally sold only to consumers willing to pay a lofty premium for performance or in enterprise devices that require atypically high reliability. However, the compact size and low energy drain makes the SSD an ideal candidate for the average netbook. Sure, a number of miniaturized notebooks can be ordered with an SSD in place of an HDD, but it still doesn't come cheap. Oftentimes, those looking to purchase a netbook will opt for the cheapest configuration, thus leaving one more SSD collecting dust in a warehouse.

The article offers up a number of suggestions for getting the SSD into more netbooks, and if followed, we could certainly see the quickly growing segment as being just the lift SSDs needed to start stealing away HDD market share at an alarming rate. For starters, CompactFlash technology shouldn't be used for a netbook solid state drive; the technology simply isn't designed to run an operating system. Next, the SSD price point has to be driven below that of an HDD. Clearly, this one is the most challenging to accomplish, and we still see it being a few years before SSDs are even in the same neighborhood as similarly sized HDDs when it comes to price. Finally, it's suggested that manufacturers toss the SSD enclosure to lower production costs and make things lighter, and each drive slotted into a netbook should be at least 16GB in order to not turn prospective buyers away with meager capacity ratings.

Do we think netbooks have a legitimate shot at catapulting solid state drives into the mainstream? Absolutely. But considering that netbooks compete primarily on price, we wouldn't count on it happening until SSD stickers fall a fair bit more.