The tradeoff netbooks promised was lower price in exchange for more limited performance, and the Atoms at the time were the right fit for that niche. Eventually, though, as more mainstream processors got cheaper, it started to make less and less sense to keep those lines going...
But lots of mobile chips now occupy this exact same price/performance space: very cheap, and not especially performant, but good enough to surf the web. We've already seen some ARM laptops, and I expect to see more in the next year, occupying the former-netbook market position. So far it's just been Chromebooks, and I have some skepticism of the viability of the ChromeOS platform in the long term, but the hardware can continue in that direction regardless of the software (my money would be on either WinRT or a slightly desktop-ified Android).
"I have some skepticism of the viability of the ChromeOS"
Lol. Ya think? I give it a couple more years at best. Some things just can't be done as web apps. Well, at least until someone figures out not only how to make fiberoptic cables perform at the full speed of light, but beyond. Think audio/video latency, etc.