Dell pulls back from netbook market

Dell discontinued its Inspiron Mini netbooks several months ago

Dell has confirmed that it has ceased production of its Inspiron Mini netbook computer, in effect ending its pursuit of the receding netbook market, at least for consumer sales.

When Dell ran through its stock of the netbooks several months ago, it declined to manufacture more units, according to a Dell spokesman.

Instead the company is focusing its efforts in the mobile computing space on selling more powerful, yet still light, laptops, including an upcoming line of ultrabooks.

"We're committed to the highly portable space and have focused on delivering Thin + Powerful solutions, for which we've seen strong success, particularly in our XPS line," a company statement read, referencing the company's newly introduced XPS 15z and XPS 14z laptops.

Although Dell discontinued the line several months ago, it didn't come to public attention until mobile-technology news site Liliputing first noticed that Dell ceased selling the netbooks earlier this week.

Dell introduced the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 in 2008. It included an Intel Atom N270 processor, solid-state storage and an 8.9-inch (22.6-cm) screen. A second generation, the Dell Inspiron Mini 10, was built using the Atom Z520 or Atom Z530 processors.

After an initial surge of consumer interest, the netbook market has cooled since tablets became objects of desire.

In many ways, netbooks were an artifact of the time, when the emergence of the global recession encouraged consumers to make more economical purchases, noted IDC PC analyst David Daoud. They soon soured on the small form factor, and Apple's introduction of the iPad further eroded consumer interest. "Netbooks are no longer of substantial interest to consumers," IDC stated in its most recent annual forecast of PC sales, published in September.

Moreover, unlike Acer and Asus, Dell was never a huge player in the netbook space, Daoud said. "Dell, being strong in the enterprise market, did not see the netbook as a must-have product," Daoud said.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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