Netbooks have been the darling of PC sales for the past year or so. But there's disturbing research out from IDC this week that may imply netbooks today will be nyetbooks tomorrow.

Pun intended: apparantly the chips are down. Intel's Atom microchips, the "it" chip of netbooks, was way down in sales for the first quarter of 2009 compared to the fourth quarter of last year. In fact, it was a withering 33% drop.

Ouch! That's way too big a drop to chalk it up to the seasonal post-holiday dip. 33% isn't a dip; it's a drop.

What it implies is that all those netbook makers didn't burn through as much of their chip stockpile as hoped and therefore pared down their orders during the first part of this year.

Naturally, high tech wags are already angsting over the rise and fall of the netbook.

To quote Mark Twain, "This report of my death is an exaggeration."

The first quarter of the year was just grim, period. If you recall, we were in the process of switching out Presidents with no stimulus bill in sight. People weren't in the mood to buy a carton of milk, much less a new tech gee gaw.

I haven't been as wow'ed about the netbooks as some. However, I admit that I am warming up to them and can't resist playing with one every time I see one on display at a store.

I think they are here to stay and will continue on their meteoric trajectory.

Here's why; they're cheap.

And, cheap is the new black.