backtop


Print 29 comment(s) - last by Apone.. on Sep 10 at 12:26 PM

Hybrid tablets inherit the (MSI) wind

In a signal that the era of cramped mini-laptops (aka. the "netbook") is drawing to a close, Acer, Inc. (TPE:2353) and ASUSTek Computer Inc. (TPE:2357) both look set to kill their netbook efforts, according to a report by DigiTimes.

I. Riding Into the Sunset

Taiwan's ASUSTek -- which recently stole the crown for fastest year-to-year growth from Hong Kong-based Lenovo Group, Ltd. (HKG:0992) -- is set to kill to perhaps the most iconic netbook, the EeePC.  Writes DigiTimes:

ASUSTek CEO Jerry Shen recently confirmed that the company will stop production of Eee PC netbooks using Atom-based processors such as the N2600 due to impact from tablet PCs and notebooks, as well as a sharp drop in demand in emerging markets. ASUSTek plans to have its Transformer tablet PCs fill the 10-inch mobile device market, replacing its netbook product line.

For Acer -- maker of the Aspire One series netbooks -- and Micro-Star International (MSI) Comp., Ltd. (TPE:2377) -- maker of the Wind -- there was a deafening silence in terms of any new Atom-based netbook announcements at Computex 2012 , leaving little doubt they too are eyeing an exit from the dying netbook market.  Acer has denied an exit as recently as Jan. 2011 of last year, but plunging sales have put an end to those vocal denials of late.

In Q3 2011, Acer reportedly shipped 1.7 million netbooks worldwide, ASUSTek shipped 1.2 million, and MSI shipped under 1 million units.

Acer Aspire One
The Aspire One by Acer is the best-selling of the netbooks currently, but it's shipping under 2 million units a quarter. [Image Source: Acer]

To be fair, it's possible that netbooks will linger around a bit longer, albeit powered by cheaper system-on-a-chip offerings from Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD) rather than Intel Corp.'s (INTC) faster, but pricier Atom SoC line.  Indeed, Acer's last netbook model to be announced was the Aspire One 725, which packs a AMD C-60 "Fusion" accelerated processing unit and launched in mid-May.  But the switch to AMD SoCs seems more like a brief stay of execution, rather than a pardon for the condemned netbook.

Some OEMs like Toshiba Corp. (TYO:6502) and Dell, Inc. (DELL) unofficially began their exit process months ago.

II. Tablets Killed the Netbook Star

In the end, for all the speculation that the tablet would kill the traditional PC, its victim lie elsewhere; it was the netbook that today is suffering an ill end.

But tablets are not the only factor that's killing the netbook.  Intel has been aggressively targeting higher price and performance points -- even with its "budget" Atom line.  Ultimately, Intel is seeking to push customers towards higher-margin Ultrabooks, which it views as the computer of the future.

Windows 8 also was bad news for the netbook.  With the upcoming Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) operating system's touch-screen mandate forcing OEMs like Acer and ASUSTek to add multi-touch screens, prices will indubitably rise on the low-end pushing budget models outside the traditional netbook price band.

In a sense the netbook may survive -- or even thrive -- in a way, in a new, pricier package.  Acer and ASUSTek have big plans for Windows 8 hybrid tablet/laptop devices.  Typically packing screens of about 10-inches, the hybrid tablet is a modern reimagination of the netbook, in a more slender and graceful wrapper.

Hybrid tablets will be more diverse than the netbook, as OEMs can now elect to use ARM-architecture chips from SoC makers like Qualcomm, Inc. (QCOM).  But they also are expected to be pricier.  Recent commentary hints that ARM Windows 8 hybrid tablets may be priced at around $500 USD, while Intel-powered units will hit somewhere in the $600-$700 bracket.

The netbook is survived by the new pricier hybrid form factor. [Image Source: Lenovo]

In other words, the main reason why a hybrid tablet is really not a netbook boils down to price.  Today the cheapest Aspire One (the D270) retails for about $270 USD, MSI is selling refurbished Winds (U230s) for about $200, and the ASUSTek's EeePC (X101CH) is $260 USD.

All of those will soon be replaced by designs which will likely be anywhere from 1.5 to 2 times as expensive.  So rest in peace/pieces netbook, you were the king of the bargain, and surely fondly remembered by some, even if your once-loyal fans forsook you for pricier tablets and hybrid devices.

Source: Digitimes



Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Netbooks have always been an inferior toy...
By Beenthere on 9/7/2012 11:46:17 AM , Rating: -1
...not a real laptop PC. 99% of the world wouldn't touch one of these toys when they can have a real laptop PC for a few dollars more. They were/are just a marketing scam for the gullible, IMO




By Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer on 9/7/2012 12:04:19 PM , Rating: 5
Choosing the device that's clearly superior in terms of portability and battery life over the one that gets only a few hours on battery and weighs a ton doesn't make someone gullible. It just means their priorities are different than yours.

Those different priorities drove my purchase of an Acer Timeline (13.3", so technically not a netbook) several years ago, when I needed a computer that I could use and carry around all day and was willing to sacrifice processing power.

In my final semester, when my Timeline developed screen problems, I tried to use a $300-$400 15.6" laptop to finish out the term, but I ended up buying a smaller device with better battery life (the Lenovo X130e). The Lenovo was a little over $500, but an equivalent HP model would have been competitive in price with the 15.6" clunker and would have met my needs better (as did the X130e).


RE: Netbooks have always been an inferior toy...
By MadMan007 on 9/7/2012 12:05:51 PM , Rating: 5
Hmm, I just inserted tablet where you were referring to netbooks and the statement still works.


By GotThumbs on 9/7/2012 12:59:53 PM , Rating: 5
Try typing a paper or working with pivot tables in excel....on a tablet.

Since we are all unique ..... that means we all have unique needs. Your free to point out short-comings with hardware, but don't assume you know whats best for everyone else.

That is ......unless Your channeling Steve Jobs.


By V-Money on 9/7/2012 3:04:43 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Hmm, I just inserted tablet where you were referring to netbooks and the statement still works.


Almost, but I have to disagree slightly. Netbooks were cheap, so for a few dollars more you could have an actual laptop. Tablets are expensive, so you could save a couple bucks by just getting a laptop (plus you could do some real work, but you lose out on the cool points).


"If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that's been on shelves for more than five minutes, I'll give you 1,200 bucks for it." -- SCEA President Jack Tretton














botimage
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki