Dell pulls out of consumer netbooks

Have tablets killed the netbook star? The folks at Lilliputing made an interesting discovery yesterday: Dell’s line of netbooks seems to have quietly vanished. A search for "netbook" on Dell’s website brings up no matches—only the following statement:

Looking for Dell Mini Netbooks?

Our mini netbooks are no longer available. Shop the next best thing – the Inspiron 14R, a stylish and portable 14" laptop with SWITCHable lids.

Liliputing does note that Dell’s Latitude 2120 netbook remains available, but that’s a business product priced quite a bit higher than your typical consumer netbook. (The base model costs $469, and Dell charges a whopping $742 for the most expensive option. In contrast, typical Asus and Acer netbooks cost around $300 or less, as did Dell’s own Mini 10 netbooks when they were still around.)

Dell’s now-discontinued Inspiron Mini 10 netbooks. Source: Dell.

The Verge pinged Dell about the subject, and it received a pretty unambiguous response. Dell is reportedly "no longer making consumer netbooks," and it "will not be releasing new netbooks based on Intel’s forthcoming Cedar Trail platform." The Verge quotes Dell Marketing Director Alison Gardner as saying, "Thin and powerful is where it is at for us." That description sounds like a reference to ultrabooks, although Dell has yet to announce its entry in that category. I reckon that will change when CES rolls around next month, though.

I suppose netbooks don’t have much of a raison d’être these days. Folks who want cheap devices to surf the web seem to be flocking to tablets, and users who need full-featured PCs are much better-served by full laptops, which offer decent-sized keyboards and relatively un-cramped displays. Personally, I’ve always found 10" or smaller netbooks to be awkward and punitive to use. I don’t expect I’ll shed any tears if other PC vendors follow in Dell’s footsteps.

Comments closed
    • swaaye
    • 9 years ago

    Netbooks might as well go away. I liked them when they were tiny, full-featured computers for an all-new cheap! My EeePC 900 is great I think. It seems like an evolution of little computers such as the Sharp Zaurus clamshells and it is far more usable than those.

    But that horribly slow hardware wasn’t exactly appealing once it went to the subnotebook sizing at 10-12″. And today we have some pretty wicked sub $400 options with Core i3 and AMD Ax chips so yeah I’d say the big netbooks can leave. That includes those 14-17″ AMD Brazos notebooks too.

    • obarthelemy
    • 9 years ago

    It’s Wintel’s fault for not providing an upgrade path. Netbook customers are interested in small price, small size, or both. They won’t be trading up much, but they might upgrade if the current netbook offerings are compellingly better. They aren’t.
    Since the first 10″ netbook generation, the Atom is stagnating, and MS still imposes the same restrictions on whatever cheap Windows license netbooks use. Result: my 3yr old netbook is pretty much as good as this xmas’s crop, so I’ll be keeping it, thank you.
    Netbooks are a lesson in bad marketing: open up (pretty much by chance too, thank you Asus) a millions-strong new market, then let it wither on the vine.

    • barleyguy
    • 9 years ago

    I’m reading this post on a Dell Mini 9. It’s still my most used computer after work hours even though I have two other more powerful laptops (a Dell Latitude with a quad i7 and a NVidia card, and an Asus N81 with core duo 2.66 and an ATI 4650).

    The main reasons I use it: it’s light on my lap, it’s fanless and solid state, and it’s a great hackintosh. It’s also been rock solid as far as reliability, even though I carry it around in the front pocket of a suitcase often.

    That said, if android tablets would have been available when I bought this, I might have chosen one of those instead. Tablets are taking a lot of market share away from netbooks, for the obvious reason that they fit most of the same use cases as well or better.

    • sschaem
    • 9 years ago

    Netbook are dying because of affordable 13″ laptops, who is crazy enough to buys a 500$ dell mini with a legacy old Atom HW?

    Dell made their netbook a failure from their design, not because of the market demand.

    A $399 thin and light netbook based on a C60 would sell like hot cake… Dell missed the boat.

    And I would never trade my netbook for a tablet. Or even trade it for a boat anker like the 14R…
    Dell saying the 14R is an alternative to a netbook show how bad they understand the market demand.

      • shank15217
      • 9 years ago

      A lot of netbook makers missed the boat on Brazos. Most of them went the atom route and then realized how shitty it really was.

        • Farting Bob
        • 9 years ago

        Missed the boat? Atom came out YEARS before Brazos, and by the time it was out, netbooks were already dying off.

    • Ashbringer
    • 9 years ago

    Anyone I know that bought a Netbook regretted it. Simply because they lacked the features of laptops and the power as well. You know how sad it is when someone asks me why they can’t play World of Warcraft with a netbook using a Intel Atom processor? Not to mention a lot of them are missing DVD roms and other features?

    It’s not like they’re cheaper then full fledged laptops either.

      • NeelyCam
      • 9 years ago

      I didn’t regret it. I knew what I was getting into, and it worked like I expected. Getting a netbook was the cheapest way to get a PC that you can carry around without breaking your back, and it had a decent battery life. Better than any other laptop at the time.. and yes – they were significantly cheaper than “full fledged laptops”. And they still are… you can’t buy a “full-fledged” laptop for $199.

      [quote<]You know how sad it is when someone asks me why they can't play World of Warcraft with a netbook using a Intel Atom processor?[/quote<] Yes, it's sad.. that those people didn't think about what they were buying. Seriously... you really should've helped them understand what a netbook is and what it can and can't do.

      • yogibbear
      • 9 years ago

      You can play Raiden II, Contra, Desktop Tower Defense, Castlevania, Super Metroid etc.

      • EtherealN
      • 9 years ago

      No regrets here, my ASUS EEE’s (first a 701 with Debian and then a 1005H running XP) have served me just as I expected them to: giving me on-the-go connectivity at a weight and form factor that is no problem at all to carry around in my man-purse. I wasn’t stupid enough to expect it to run the newest games, but I should note that Eufloria, Alpha Centauri, Torchlight and so on work perfectly fine on that hardware. You can have fun with it.

      Now, of course, for me they are now replaced by my Transformer which fills the same duty pretty much (net via WLAN in hotels or Hotspot function on my Galaxy S2). But that does not change a couple facts:

      1) They were actually cheaper when new than Transformer is now.
      2) They did exactly what I expected them to do, and did so well. (Well, the 701 was a bit meh as far as the driver situation goes. but the 1005 was awesome.)
      3) And like NeelyCam said – not cheaper than full-fledged laptops? Hurr… lolwut? 😛

      • Chrispy_
      • 9 years ago

      There must be a problem with the way Netbooks are sold in your country then. Here in the UK, netbooks are always sold as “suitable for internet and email” and nothing more. Even Zacate-based E-450 netbooks aren’t mentioned as gaming-capable in most places I’ve seen them.

      It’s obvious in the name. Netbooks are for the ‘net. Laptops is short for laptop PC, as in “a proper PC that fits on your lap”.

      If you’re uninformed, or intentionally deceived by a salesman, then that’s different – but in that case then the problem is one of general ignorance and dirty sales tactics, not netbooks themselves. If someone selling me a tube of superglue said “oh yes it’ll stick anything back together” I’d be angry that my broken bike frame fell apart after just two minutes. That’s not the glue’s fault, the blame lies with me and the vendor, for not using the correct solution and welding the damn thing.

    • lilbuddhaman
    • 9 years ago

    Netbooks, Laptops, Tablets…

    [url<]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convergent_evolution[/url<]

    • yogibbear
    • 9 years ago

    I predict tomorrow’s headline: “HP sees bright future in netbooks, invests heavily” 😉

    • riviera74
    • 9 years ago

    I am glad that Dell has realized something I knew (or figured out) three years ago: netbooks are terrible, especially for profit margins. I do sincerely hope that the biggest technology mistake of 2008 is erased from existence, especially given that there are OK notebooks for only $400-500 and tablets ranging from $250-500+.

      • adisor19
      • 9 years ago

      Unfortunately you and I are in the minority here. Geeks and other cheap folks who have no idea what a good experience with a laptop should be, will buy these without thinking.

      Adi

      • ludi
      • 9 years ago

      In 2008 your only other option anywhere near the netbook level was a Blackberry, or an ultraportable costing $1000. Why do you hate choice?

        • teryan2006
        • 9 years ago

        It’s not hating choice. It’s hating crappy products.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 9 years ago

    [quote<]Dell pulls out of consumer netbooks...[/quote<] "...no more offspring for the Mini line." ^I was hoping for a better sub-headline, something like that. 🙂

      • axeman
      • 9 years ago

      This isn’t [H] ;P

    • Corrado
    • 9 years ago

    Why invest the engineering resources when Intel hasn’t made them much, if any faster in 2 years? Its tough to sell new machines when ones from 2 years ago are the same speed and the only ‘feature’ upgrade has marginally better battery life.

      • dpaus
      • 9 years ago

      Because there are AMD chips available that are faster and have much better graphics.

      Oh. Right, this is Dell we’re talking about.

    • Chrispy_
    • 9 years ago

    Dell Minis haven’t been on sale in the UK for months. Not that it mattered, Dell Minis were more expensive and chunkier than other netbooks, I wouldn’t recommend one to anyone with much better options on the market.

    11.6″ is the ideal form factor anyway – It’s the minimum size you need for a full size keyboard and you usually get a 1366 x 768 panel instead of a 1024 x 600 POS.

      • NeelyCam
      • 9 years ago

      [quote<]11.6" is the ideal form factor anyway - It's the minimum size you need for a full size keyboard and you usually get a 1366 x 768 panel instead of a 1024 x 600 POS.[/quote<] This.

        • axeman
        • 9 years ago

        I almost completely agree. The Aspire One 722 is 11.6″ and the keyboard seems just a little bit small to me. My old 12.1″ Latitude on the other hand is perfect. Maybe this is just better design rather than the size though.

          • Chrispy_
          • 9 years ago

          Yeah, the Lenovo S12 (12.1″) was actually the only laptop I’ve owned that is smaller than 15.6″. The keys were edge-to-edge on that and they felt spot-on,

          Unfortunately, 11.6″ seems to be the panel size that we’re stuck with these days. At least it’s close enough and at 11.6″, 1366×768 is actually a respectable DPI for a change! \o/

            • axeman
            • 9 years ago

            11.6″ and 1366×768 is perfect. at 15″ and 1366×7168, well, it makes me something something.

            • NeelyCam
            • 9 years ago

            [quote<]at 15" and 1366x7168[/quote<] I want one of those.

            • axeman
            • 9 years ago

            😀 the dpi is a bit asymmetric though

          • NeelyCam
          • 9 years ago

          When I eventually dump my 11.6″ CULV “ultraportable”, I’ll definitely get another one of that screen size (of course, I would expect it to be thinner and lighter as ultrabooks are supposed to be).

          18 more months to Haswell…

    • odizzido
    • 9 years ago

    I will never buy a laptop bigger than 10 inches again. I would buy one smaller though. I would shed many tears if 10 inch laptops died off. I am pretty disappointed that I can’t find any 8 or 9 inch ones :\

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 9 years ago

      Don’t worry. They’ll be everywhere once there are more tablets and everyone jumps on keyboard docks.

      • dpaus
      • 9 years ago

      [quote<]I am pretty disappointed that I can't find any 8 or 9 inch ones :\[/quote<] That's what she said before she met me.... (oh, c'mon, [i<]somebody[/i<] had to say it!)

        • NeelyCam
        • 9 years ago

        Didn’t your mom tell you that size doesn’t matter?

        • clone
        • 9 years ago

        the porn industry has lied to you. :-}

        can’t fit a stretch limo into a 1 car garage so what’s the point.

      • Pancake
      • 9 years ago

      I have to say I feel the same way. Typing this on my main development/gaming workstation with Razor Blackwidow clickety-clack and Ultrasharp U3011. But the computer I use the most is my Eee PC. I just love it, it’s so small, compact, well-built and battery lasts a day (off and on browsing, videos – I don’t sit behind it all day literally). Matte screen, all-matte enclosure, almost no chrome. I have a 12.1″ ultraportable I rarely use – only for product demos and training courses. It’s too big.

      Had an Acer Iconia 500 tablet. Didn’t enjoy using it. Gave it away. Watching videos is so much more convenient on a netbook with an adjustable screen angle especially when in the kitchen. And I’m always wanting to *type* stuff – google searches, emails etc. I don’t get how people say they prefer tablets for email and web use. Sure, you can hold it in one hand but it *sucks*.

      My netbook even runs Eclipse quite well. The 1024×600 is no impediment to writing code.

      What I’m waiting for is netbook2. Higher res display (but no bigger than 10″), more RAM, SSD and a faster CPU.

      I’m tempted by the Transformer Prime with keyboard dock but setting it up as a dev environment would not be fun. Give me x86 Windows.

    • jdaven
    • 9 years ago

    Ahhh. Another reason that Intel’s bottom line is falling….the absolute failure that is Atom. Hard drive shortage my arse.

    Goodbye netbooks. We hardly knew ye…because you sucked.

      • adisor19
      • 9 years ago

      This.

      Adi

        • axeman
        • 9 years ago

        Yeah, he should have more thumbs up if you ask me.

        • yogibbear
        • 9 years ago

        Considering your name is prominently displayed on the left hand side of your posts, why do you constantly have to refer to yourself at the end of your posts? Are you that vain?

          • dpaus
          • 9 years ago

          I wish he’d sign ‘rosida’ so that at least his posts would be palindromes.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 9 years ago

          I sign my name on emails even though it’s clearly shown on the sender line. His signing comments never bothered me.

          • adisor19
          • 9 years ago

          Once upon a time, TR allowed Anonymous comments on the site that appeared under “Anonymous Gerbil”. I used to sign my post so that other anonymous posters knew who i was.

          Once TR forced everyone to register an account in order to post, i kept signing my posts as a sign of protest and disagreement with the policy.

          I’ve mentioned this in the past but I’d like to mention it again. I miss anonymous posts on TR.

          Adi

      • ludi
      • 9 years ago

      Atom didn’t fail — it did quite well for a couple years. When the first netbooks hit the market, there was no other viable option at that size and price point. The Atom was a serviceable bridge solution. Time has now passed it by, but people apparently have no recollection at what a wasteland the PC market was if you wanted both portability and good battery life without spending a gold-plated grand.

        • paulWTAMU
        • 9 years ago

        The problem is that they haven’t changed much in the whole time they’ve been out–I’d like *some* advancement. But when they came out they were good for what they were. I’m not sure how much traction they’ll have with things like 11″ laptops that offer significantly more power (for more but not ungodly more money) and more standard tablets. But when they came out they filled a need and did fairly well. But the markets changed again is all.

      • DavidC1
      • 9 years ago

      What the…? Netbooks were so popular when introduced that they were regarded as cannibalizing laptops! This is what happens when arguments are driven by emotion rather than logic.

      But their revenue was only $300 million, which is 1/30th of Intel’s revenue! They could have sold zero Atoms and it wouldn’t have been that big of a loss.

      Now take off your blindfold and see how much it costs to buy a cheap Celeron or Pentium laptop based on the Sandy Bridge core. And they kick both Atom and Brazos’s ass. Coincidentally when that happened Netbook sales started dropping.

      Hmm…….

      • Auril4
      • 9 years ago

      Would would anyone get a Packard Dell when they can get the good stuff?

        • Wirko
        • 9 years ago

        [url=http://www.madle.org/ebayliff.htm<]Packard[/url<] ain't [url=http://dellstreakhacks.com/dell-streak-integrated-in-new-hybrid-concept-car.html<]Dell[/url<]. Both look like good stuff to me, though.

      • SPOOFE
      • 9 years ago

      [quote<] Another reason that Intel's bottom line is falling....the absolute failure that is Atom.[/quote<] How big a part of Intel's business is Atom, really? How much have they invested in it?

    • jjj
    • 9 years ago

    This move is not about netbooks,it’s about Dell staying away from low margins,something they started doing a while ago.
    As for netbooks being dead that depends a lot on how you define them,by size or price.If you define netbooks by price then they are doing fine,Atom just lost a lot of share to AMD’s Brazos.

      • sschaem
      • 9 years ago

      Dell is competing with company like Toshiba making $250 retail netbook with the EXACT same spec as the mini that come with a $500 retail price.

      And I agree, Dell also see the mini as cannibalizing their higher margin offering. like the 14R

      What most company dont get is that netbook are not just mobile devices, but highly mobile.
      To get <3pounds laptop with long battery life it use to cost way over $1000 (those sony are still little marvels)

      People did sacrifice gaming and other perks, but now with chips like the C60 netbooks are pretty much cheap Ultrabooks.

      But this market will completely die off with windows, samsung and the gang going ARM. Google will use ARM in their chromebooks,
      and I dont think we will see any netbook based on x86 by 2013.
      Its all going to be ultrabook, just a more costly version of netbooks. paying more for the same…

    • dpaus
    • 9 years ago

    My HP Mini is my second-most-used platform (the first being my workhorse Inspiron 15), which gives yeoman service as a web-surfing platform. True, it won’t play YouTube videos, but for basic e-mail/etc the presence of an actual keyboard – no matter how chiclet-y – beats my iPad or TouchPad.

    EDIT: as an executive, I’m still looking for a very small, highly portable, but very powerful system that can be used in the office as the core of a day-to-day work system, but be picked up and carried away for mobile use. Such a system in this form factor (the classic 10″ netbook) would be highly desirable, at least to me.

      • TREE
      • 9 years ago

      Umm… How about a 11-inch MacBook Air with Windows installed as the OS, or Linux?

      “As an executive,” the price should not be an issue for you. If it is, try going down the student discount route.

        • dpaus
        • 9 years ago

        To clarify:

        [list=1<] [*<]The Mac Book Air - especially the next-gen version - is indeed an option I'm considering, because.... [/*<][*<]Yes, as 'an executive', I'm considerably [i<]less[/i<] price-sensitive than those students, but [/*<][*<]sadly, I am [i<]not[/i<] one of those executives that got a 36.2% pay raise this year. I didn't even have an 'Occupy' group camp outside my office.[/*<] [/list<]

          • derFunkenstein
          • 9 years ago

          [quote<]I didn't even have an 'Occupy' group camp outside my office.[/quote<] Then you're clearly not a very good executive. Get on it!

          • axeman
          • 9 years ago

          I guessed that from the fact you’re using an INSPIRON 😀

            • pedro
            • 9 years ago

            I lol’d.

          • End User
          • 9 years ago

          Executive? I’m picturing Mad Men. Shudder.

          Where I work everyone who needs a laptop, from a junior new hire to my Director and the owner of the company, has a MacBook Air. I have not seen a technology divide at work by rank in a long time.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 9 years ago

            You got some sort of special company then. I’m still using a Latitude D520 and everyone above me are walking around with much more recent Vostros. My work PC gets me by, though, so I don’t complain. 😀

            • sweatshopking
            • 9 years ago

            he works in magic apple land.

            • End User
            • 9 years ago

            A magic Apple land supported by Linux, VMware and open-source software.

            • End User
            • 9 years ago

            Small, nimble and growing. The guy in charge is a technology geek.

            • Squeazle
            • 9 years ago

            Don’t worry. It will change.

            • End User
            • 9 years ago

            It does. Every single day.

            • Chrispy_
            • 9 years ago

            Wow. That must be INCREDIBLY ANNOYING.

            • axeman
            • 9 years ago

            O_o

        • adisor19
        • 9 years ago

        Wait wait, you’re suggesting Linux over OS X ?!?! LMAO

        Adi

          • End User
          • 9 years ago

          Why not? From a hardware point of view Linux or ESXi running Linux+Windows gives you way more flexibility. It all depend on what you want to do. OS X is my favorite OS but I am not blind to the wealth of options out there.

          I plan to test out Ubuntu 12.04 on my Air over the holidays.

          (BTW, I did not down-vote you)

            • Beelzebubba9
            • 9 years ago

            OS X has the best desktop hypervisors (VMWare Fusion, Parallels) out there which is one reason I prefer it for work even in a Windows environment. 🙂

      • trackerben
      • 9 years ago

      I got the HP Mini 110 for my wife and she loves to bring it on the conference circuit for presentations to internal and institutional audiences. I still keep my old dv2 around for when I need something more than e-mail and browsing.

      But for light duty and personal tasks on the go (i.e. not media editing or IT development), like my wife I tend to reach for my ipad whenever my desktop isn’t close by. The ipad is just too quick and easy a proposition in transient and on-the-go situations. Many youtubes now play on it, it apparently has the least exploitable mobile browser and app store, its email app is optimized for 10″, the free xvid player even plays and streams SD video up to x264 aac format, and it’s a good enough gps to be our back-up navigation when we travel as a family.

      Beyond work-related, its a showcase for what’s to come in handheld computing, it’s the de facto nextgen portable games console, and it has sovereign appeal well beyond the industrial or geekdom. My wife tells me the iPad is de riguer with all the fashionable girls-with-totes in the office and after hours. Its looks and accoutrement is the usual topic right up there with $5T handbag repairs. She does like to keep the HP netbook for work travel, for which it’s apparently good enough but no more than that. Sad but true, Intel.

      For editing multipage docs and spreadsheets on my ipad I use a compact Targus bluetooth keyboard and a small folding stand which all fit nicely in a folio case. Setup on a cafe or office desk is in seconds. I also bought two similar Chinese knock-offs just for fun. As is usual, they perform identically even though they cost a third of the Targus. But not everything is smooth going for the tablet user, especially if enterprise guidelines and security are to be followed. You would need to check how well the ipad’s plaintext and document apps integrate with your enterprise formats and workflow, but for most mobile categories its apps and UI are pretty much standard.

      All that said, I look forward to getting one of next year’s Ultrabook. I held off on ordering the current Toshiba as next year’s Ivy are likely to run cooler and perhaps lighter. Also 13in screens in 1280×800 or 1440×900. One can always hope.

        • Kollaps
        • 9 years ago

        You probably held off on buying a ultrabook because you don’t need one.

          • trackerben
          • 9 years ago

          Maybe. I don’t do any work that isn’t better done at sites or the office, and mostly what I do on the road is e-mail and browsing. I do want an Ultrabook for playing the new FPS games at mid resolutions. Its to be my vacation machine as well as for work on long-distance trips.

          I’ve always been a desktop user, nothing beats the functionality of one setup just right. When I get home, I normally leave my ulraportable in the car just for the psychological space it gives me from my workday. Although I’ve made space for the ipad, it’s good enough for most tasks away from my desks and also a great comfort on vacation.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 9 years ago

    Kudos to Dell for figuring out this is a dead platform that’s not going to get any better.

      • izmanq
      • 9 years ago

      most people will only need netbook for daily use. but selling netbook won’t bring much profit, that’s why dell left the market i guess.

        • axeman
        • 9 years ago

        The ARM tablet killed the netbook. Good riddance, Atom sucked. I can’t wait to see it killed off entirely.

          • pedro
          • 9 years ago

          Atom’s doing a good job in my QNAP NAS.

            • Thresher
            • 9 years ago

            Which is what Atom should have been used for in the first place. Without a decent built in graphics solution, it’s just a low powered processor that is maybe one step up from an embedded CPU. ION is a much better platform for low powered laptops.

            • axeman
            • 9 years ago

            Ah, I didn’t think of that. Yes, it’s fine as an embedded device. But you hit the nail on the head. I wouldn’t doubt that even some of the graphics solutions making their way onto ARM SoCs stomp on the Atom platform’s graphics, with less power consumption.

            • Beelzebubba9
            • 9 years ago

            QNAP – Single handedly justifying the Atom since 2009. 🙂

          • raddude9
          • 9 years ago

          Nah, I think it was Intel that killed off the Netbook by forcing Netbook makers to use low-res screens, limiting the memory that could be installed and driving out decent graphics solutions like ION. Consumers then got the idea that small PCs are crap.
          The thing is they don’t have to be. I got a friend an Acer Aspire one 522, with a 10inch 1280×800 screen and AMD C60 processor, it runs everything I’ve thrown at it pretty well (once I upped the memory to 2 gigs), and makes for a very portable and usable windows system.

            • PeterD
            • 9 years ago

            Wasn’t it MS which didn’t want Windows to be used on high-res screen netbooks?

            • derFunkenstein
            • 9 years ago

            I believe so, but that was only for XP IIRC.

            • axeman
            • 9 years ago

            They didn’t want to continue to sell licenses of XP to OEMs, but they extended it because Vista wouldn’t work worth a damn [s<]on Atom[/s<], with the condition you couldn't have more than a certain screen size, to avoid saying "XP only on Atom, because it sucks".

          • chriso11
          • 9 years ago

          But the AMD E450 is pretty damn good. I think it is a great netbook CPU/GPU. I’m waiting for the Asus 1215b with the E450 to come to the US.

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