Netbooks are those little laptops showing up in every electronics store on the planet (e.g., Lenovo IdeaPad, Asus Eee PC, Acer Aspire One, Dell Mini, HP Mini).
According to The Channel Wire, the "netbook market grew by more than 160 percent quarter-on-quarter during Q3 of 2008" (5.6 million netbooks sold in Q3 2008). I expect low cost netbooks will be even more popular given the current economic slump, so it makes sense for web and RIA developers to be intentional in making their apps look good on those little screens. Netbooks commonly come with a resolution of either 1024×600 or 800×480.
Yup, we’re goin’ old skool tonite, babeee!
That resolution shows up on the smallest netbooks like the 7-inch variants of the Eee PC and it’s not much screen to work with for a web app. Most web designers / developers I know have stopped worrying about the tiny handful of users still stuck at 800×600 (or, gasp, 640×480). E.g.: I checked in with web purist @drewmack (http://divwhisperer.com/) and he insists that he only designs for two targets nowadays: 1024 pixels wide and mobile. But now we have a class of users buying new computers designed for accessing the Internet but running at resolutions that most of us have already abandoned.
I have decided to stick with 1024 pixels as a minimum resolution for the Silverlight prototype. Users on a netbook running below 1024px wide can always use the mobile version of the app (if/when one is built). For the sake of comparison: the iPhone has a 480×320 pixel screen.
What do you think? Is it a fair strategy for consumer-oriented web / RIA sites to treat low resolution netbooks as mobile devices?