Everyone seems to be predicting the death of netbooks at the hands of tablets. Not Asus. DigiTimes reports that the Eee PC pioneer is planning to expand its collection of netbooks by adding three or four new models to the mix. Asus' website already lists a whopping 57 different Eee PC variants—and that's just the netbooks. Although the differences between most of the models are minimal at best, the lineup is still confusing, even for me.
DigiTimes claims the new additions to the Eee PC lineup won't change Asus' pricing strategy, which the report says segments netbooks into budget, mid-range, and premium categories starting at $400, $500, and $600, respectively. Those prices don't jibe with the fact that Newegg has some Eee PC models selling for as little as $260. Most are running between $330 and $400, although Newegg doesn't appear to be carrying much in the way of premium units. Moving Atom-based systems costing more than $400 may prove difficult as Brazos-based offerings like the Pavilion dm1 and ThinkPad X120e trickle onto the market. Fortunately, Asus tells us that it, too, has plans for AMD's first Fusion platform.
Speaking of plans, Asus intends to ship six million netbooks this year. According to Eee PC general manager Samson Hu, most of those systems will be heading to emerging markets like Brazil, Indonesia, and countries in the Middle East. Hu says that strong demand in those regions is making up for weaker sales elsewhere. Tablets may indeed eat away at netbook market share in North America and other tech-savvy markets. However, I suspect that quite a lot of the rest of the world would be happy with the cheap, portable, Windows computing platform that netbooks provide.
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