Atom-powered netbooks have never faced such stern competition. With affordable Fusion ultraportables pushing from one side and tablets exerting pressure from the other, the only way left may be down—down the pricing scale, that is. DigiTimes reports that Asus and Intel are planning to unleash a netbook that will retail for a scant $200-250 this June.
Basing its story on a tip from sources at "upstream component makers," DigiTimes adds that this uniquely cheap netbook may forgo Windows 7 Starter for a more budget-appropriate operating system: either Chrome OS or Android 3.0. Considering Google has been distributing those Cr-48 development laptops for over three months now, Chrome OS's retail debut can't be too far off. An Eee PC with a bargain-basement price tag could make a nice home for it.
I don't see Android 3.0 as much of a netbook OS, though; its flashy interface is clearly tailored for slates. And I'm guessing $200-250 is too cheap for a netbook with a touch screen.
DigiTimes says Asus is hoping for six million netbook shipments this year. Don't let that figure fool you into thinking the company is betting it all on netbooks. As we saw at CES, Asus also has a top-to-bottom line of tablets in the works, the cheapest of which is supposed to hit stores later this year with a $399 price tag.