updated 10:00 am EDT, Mon August 16, 2010
ASUS drops netbook aims after iPad impact
The iPad's cooling effect on netbooks may have had its first clear evidence after an ASUS presentation at an investors' conference on Friday. Despite summer being the usual peak for Eee PC sales, CEO Jerry Shen dropped his company's netbook shipment estimates in the season to 1.4 million PCs, reportedly due to Apple's tablet. ASUS now expects to ship between seven and eight million Eee PCs through all of 2010.
Shen remained committed to the Eee PC line but also reassured investors that ASUS would compete with Apple in the tablet space through the Eee Pad line, which will now have Android as well as Windows 7 and Windows Embedded Compact 7 variants. The first of these won't start shipping until December at the earliest, however, and will give Apple a roughly eight month lead.
Apple has already outsold ASUS' combined spring and summer shipments with 3.27 million iPads having shipped worldwide. It's expected to only grow that number in the summer as it still faces seven- to 10-day shipping delays and retail shortages, even with increased production and wider availability.
The lowered forecasts partly mirror an overall cooling of netbook demand as the platform matures, but it may also reflect a growing dissatisfaction with the category compared to tablets like the iPad. Netbooks can run more software and cost less but are often subjectively slower due to the higher overhead of Windows and the relatively low power Atom chip. They also usually have shorter battery life while still measuring roughly twice as thick and heavy.