How do you know when a device has moved from being the hot, must-have tech to a standard commodity, cheap at half the price? When you can buy a DIY mix-n-match version of it, like you now can for netbooks thanks to a chinese vendor.
The company in question is Guo Bang, and their offering is about as straightforward as you can imagine: Inside a pretty standard netbook case you can chose the precise flavor of Intel Atom CPU, motherboard and display screen tech you want. Guo Bang will deliver the half-complete computer to you, ready to have a hard drive and RAM slotted in, and the OS of your choice slapped on there. Since this is a bulk sale, the idea is that you buy a bunch of custom machines like this, re-badge them, and then sell them for around $200.
It all makes sense, given that most netbooks are more or less identical from a hardware point of view already, and that many of the components are sourced in China. And it’s an undeniable sign that the netbook phenomenon (where the diminutive and limited machines were the darlings of the tech industry) really has come to a close. Asus, Acer, and the rest will still own big chunks of this market thanks to the upheaval in the PC industry heralded by the EEE PC, but if any old two-bit company can knock out a Guo Bang-based netbook that’s almost indistinguishable from these machines, then these PCs are no longer revolutionary.