Asus, Acer pullouts herald end of netbook market

Just over five years after their inception, netbooks may be about to disappear from the market—for good.

DigiTimes reports that Asus and Acer are the only remaining players in the netbook game, where the bulk of sales originate from "emerging markets." Acer has reportedly stopped announcing new netbook models already, and Asus is expected to halt Eee PC production at the end of the year. In short, "the netbook market will officially end after the two vendors finish digesting their remaining inventories."

Good riddance, I say—assuming DigiTimes has its facts straight. Netbooks may have been uniquely cheap, but their tiny screens, cramped controls, and sluggish hardware made them punishing to use. Tablets, especially convertible models, are a lot more compelling.

The disappearance of netbooks might deal a blow to Intel's Atom processor family. Intel is now making a push into Windows 8 tablets with lower-power Atom silicon, however, and early benchmarks show Atom-powered slates are fairly competitive with their ARM-driven foes, at least in terms of CPU power and battery life. Also, DigiTimes suggests Intel will keep offering higher-wattage Atom chips for embedded systems.

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