I heartily disagree. There's a big difference, huge difference between "can barely" and "does it really fucking well". The iPad shoots for the latter (we'll see if it hits), the netbook's mere existence is predicated on the former.
If your definition of "can do the same" means "someone willing to bang their head hard enough and willing to live with a substandard user experience can do it", sure. But IMHO we need to strive for a higher standard than that.
After the iPod, the Mac, and the iPhone, I don't think geeks still get why Apple is successful: they build devices that normal people actually want. I think there is some collective head-in-the-sand in the geek community because what people apparently want is not at all like what geeks want. The average user doesn't want freedom, doesn't want an open kernel, doesn't give a shit about standards, they want to have a slick, usable, and intuitive user experience, and so far netbooks are failing hard at it.
The average user doesn't want the ability to hunt down zip files on obscure websites, downloading the file, and being able to run whatever app is inside. They like having a central place where all apps in the universe reside. This may or may not be good for the industry as a whole, but it is what our users desire.
IMHO the constant spec-based wankery is why nobody has yet caught up with Apple. I'm seeing a lot of internet chatter about how netbooks do more (does more, poorly), how the cost is too high, how the CPU is too slow, blah blah blah, but conveniently ignores what is IMHO the one defining reason Apple has succeeded in the last decade: user interface.
"My Android phone isn't locked down!" <-- Your Android phone also crashes all the time, emits strange cryptic messages that only developers understand ("a process has been forced to exit"?)
Just saying, but having an open kernel doesn't prevent Apple's user experience. If Apple were to post their source code to apple.com right now the iPad's user experience would not take an immediate nose-dive due to the universal law that "open source != good user experience." Please don't act like freedom and good user experience are mutually exclusive.
For example, I just read a most interesting exchange on a board, where one guy was going on about how the video experience sucks because there's no DVD drive - it's completely missing the forest for the trees, getting hung up about a single insignificant detail that's at the very best a nice-to-have. This sort of tunnel vision prevents the broad view required to execute this sort of device.
I had an epiphany (albeit a minor one) when thinking about this problem. I asked myself, "Why do I have such a problem with Apple's closed app store?" The conclusion I reached is that a core part of my geek personality involves resisting authority figures that I didn't choose, whether it's manifest through running Linux instead of Windows or starting my own company instead of pursuing a traditional career. I suspect that, to an enterprising and independent geek, accepting Apple's way is like giving up the fight for independence from unwanted authority figures.
No they don't, that's probably why everyone on this thread is saying the same thing as you ..
> the constant spec-based wankery
The way you actually transform platform openness into spec-based wankery is beyond me.