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

By Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer on 9/7/2012 11:53:47 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
In a sense the netbook may survive -- or even thrive -- in a way, in a new, pricier package...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.

In my anecdotal experience, price has been a significant driver of netbook sales. People who can't afford to spend more than $250 to $300 on a computer aren't suddenly going to be able to spend $500 to $600 on one.

On the other hand, the kind of people who can't afford to spend more than $250 or $300 on a computer would probably be able to manage just fine with a Surface RT. If the rumored $200 price is for real, and if tablet and keyboard cover manage to land at around the same price as a traditional netbook...well, maybe that, right there, is the reason Acer got so upset at Microsoft.




By Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer on 9/7/2012 1:30:45 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Poor choice of wording on "the kind of people"-Do you mean poor people are a certain kind of people? I'm sure you did not mean to sound like an elitist, but it came off that way.

Hmm, yeah, I can see what you mean. Re-reading that statement, I realize it wasn't even saying what I was trying to say, so I'll give it another go. :-)

"On the other hand, people who find their computing needs are satisfied by a netbook would probably be able to manage just fine with a Surface RT."

My intent was not to disparage poor people (I'm not exactly living the high life myself) but was rather to say that some people don't consider computers a high priority in their life. They want to go online, they want to send email, do whatever, but they don't want to spend a lot of money to do those things, either because they don't have the money to spend after fulfilling their basic needs or because they'd rather spend it on something else. They're not compiling code or doing prepress work or editing movies or anything, really, that justifies buying anything more than a netbook.

On the other hand, I spent over $1100 to buy a nice 14" laptop with a lot of battery life and a high-resolution screen, because those features offer me tangible benefits and I considered them worthwhile. I had to sacrifice in order to make the purchase, too. Would I tell, say, my mother to buy exactly the same computer I did? Heck no. The difference between a $300 computer and a $1100 computer wouldn't really be worth it to her.


By Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer on 9/7/2012 1:34:17 PM , Rating: 1
No need to downrank him, guys; his criticism was fair. It was a poor choice of words on my part, and it's what I get for trying to rush through a post while at work.


"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller














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