Stories like this are getting a lot of press with the assertion that netbooks are somehow being killed by the iPad. Except for one thing, the data doesn’t say that at all. In fact, if you look at the chart, you can see netbook declines started in October, well before there was even an iPad announcement. Don’t get me wrong, I think the netbook is essentially a dead idea. In fact, I wrote about it some time ago. It’s just that not everything happens because of Apple. The iPad may well be having an impact on netbook purchases now, I know I’d buy and iPad sooner than a netbook but there’s absolutely no causation shown here.
This is a reverse case of “post hoc, ergo propter hoc“. That’s Latin for “after it, therefore because of it”. It means that if one thing follows another, one thing also causes another. (it’s also the title of one of my favorite episodes of the West Wing of all time. but I digress)
The problem is that type of causal relationship is almost never true. It’s a common mistake that’s often made and in this case it’s clear to me that one thing has not proven to have led to another. It’s quite possible iPad is affecting netbooks sales. it’s also possible consumers don’t want tiny, underpowered laptops running XP or low end versions of Windows 7. The netbook success was the result of an imperfect storm, that storm has passed so not surprised to see the decline.