"I don't have any inside information," said Ezra Gottheil of Technology Business Research Inc., as he spelled out his take on Apple's next hardware move. "This is just by triangulation."
The App Store will be one of the keys, Gottheil said. "By controlling the software that can be loaded and the hardware that can be attached, Apple's device will be simpler, easier to use and more reliable than a PC, and will excel at the functions most required by users," he said.
The problem with current netbooks, including those powered by open-source Linux, is that while they may sport a simplified interface and be attractively priced, they lack many of the elements that Apple has. "The vendors did not invest in everything necessary to deliver the device, including software development, partnerships with other hardware vendors and online services," Gottheil said.
To succeed, a netbook needs strong software, an online delivery system for that software and "enforced limits" on the supported peripherals, he said, pointing to Google Inc. as a possible software partner and supplier, the App Store as the delivery system and Hewlett-Packard Co. as the most likely peripheral partner.