Flying high, Apple nixes rumored netbook

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The headlines from Apple's quarterly earnings call were the company's record quarterly revenue and net profit, despite gloomy retail performance elsewhere. But a couple other items raised eyebrows – and suspicions – around the blogosphere.

Apple chief operating officer Tim Cook squashed fanboys' hopes by pouring water on the notion that the company would release a 'netbook,' citing sacrifices like cramped screens and keyboards, underpowered processors, and poor software performance in such stripped-down models. Also out of the question, according to Mr. Cook, is an entry-level cellphone – which the rumormills had dubbed the "iPhone Nano."

Those declarations had many – including PC World's Daniel Ionescu – calling for fanboys and "analysts" to ditch the rumors and stick to the facts.

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But the announcement had the opposite effect for Jason Snell over at Macworld. His post, "Reading Apple's netbook tea leaves," applied a little "Apple Kremlinology" to Cook's statements, arguing that the company had run interference on projects it was working on before.

Under his scheme, Cook's "We’re watching that space" translates to "We’ve been building prototypes for more than a year." And "Right now, we think the products there are inferior and will not provided an experience to customers that they are happy with" becomes "Nobody will do netbooks right until we do it. Just wait."

Whether Cupertino goes for it, an Apple netbook isn't just a fan's dream – it's a smart move, as far as the industry's outlook. Wired's Brian Chen points to the netbook segment's skyrocketing numbers in arguing that Apple would be foolish to ignore it. "ABI Research forecasts that manufacturers will ship 200 million ultramobile devices, including netbooks by 2013 — which is about the same anticipated size as the entire laptop market worldwide," he writes.

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