Mark Beckford at edutechdebate predicts that in 2010 "Netbook fever and 1:1 computing in education begin to fade into the background." While I don't have an opinion about 1 to 1 in relation to its prospects, I do think that it's way, way early to make a guess about netbooks in schools...
(The following is cross-posted as a comment to EduTechDebates.)
While "netbook fever" has certainly passed in commercial markets, it's difficult to tell in education if it's passed or yet to hit. Netbooks have been on market for too little time to have penetrated the project-planning and funding cycles of national governments: XO-1 was announced in 2005; eeePC was introduced in late 2007; developing-country commercial markets received netbooks somewhat later than those of OECD countries. And OLPC is the only netbook OEM, more or less, to market to ministries of education.
Netbooks present an array of features that could be really important in developing-country education systems: most netbooks don't have hard drives, so they're possibly more durable and power consumption is low. And they're cheap. The importance of these features is magnified in large-scale projects, in education systems in which personnel lack ICT training or familiarity, and in infrastructure-poor environments. Netbooks (as do notebooks) support many different configurations--several netbooks in a few different classrooms, one netbook in every classroom (and a projector, perhaps? An LED projector?), or a bunch of netbooks in one classroom.
This flexibility means that netbooks (and notebooks, with higher cost, higher power consumption, and reduced durability) can support the teacher-led pedagogies that are what most teachers use: "I have the laptop, I have the projector, I show you stuff. At least it's stuff that's more interesting than the textbook stuff we had before. Now, if I also had a digital whiteboard..."
One netbook or a few netbooks in a classroom can support station-based learning or collaborative learning. A bunch of netbooks in a classroom can support computer-lab-style learning, say with students using educational software or productivity software independently.
Netbooks can enable all of these activities AND they can support computer-lab-based ICT instruction. While it might be preferable to eliminate ICT classes and instead contextualize the development of ICT skills in other subjects, a lot of developing-country school systems (all of the OECS countries in the Caribbean, for example) already have ICT curricula and exams plus teachers to administer these. And in a lot of cases (but not all) they've invested in technology. It's unrealistic to think that "basic ICT" instruction will go away without a kind of glacial resistance. At the same time, it's a waste of money to launch province-wide or nationwide programs to invest in computers in schools if those computers are going to be dedicated to learning technology-as-subject.
Netbook fever might not be out of the picture just yet. It's probably too soon too tell.