PC maker Asus, a pioneer of the netbook concept, showed two new models at Computex. The Asus Eee PC 1025 C and 1025 CE are Windows netbooks that will launch worldwide in the fourth quarter of this year. Priced at $299, the devices are built with an "instant on" feature that allow users to resume Windows in two seconds from sleep mode.
The other Asus netbook that has caught some attention is the Eee PC X101, which runs Intel's MeeGo mobile operating system. The device will launch worldwide in July and cost $199. Asus will also be releasing a Windows 7 version of the netbook that will cost between $240 and $250.
Asus' rival Acer is also showing a low-cost netbook priced at $199. The Aspire One Happy has both Windows and Android 2.3 installed. Users can switch between operating systems by rebooting the system. Acer launched a version of the device worldwide last month.
Lenovo, Samsung and Fujitsu displayed other netbooks running Intel's MeeGo operating system.
Intel executives at the Computex show said netbooks continue to be an important market and that the company wants to bring netbook prices down to $199 with new chip technologies.
The boom in tablets has however led PC makers like Taiwanese company Micro-Star International to shift resources away from developing more netbook devices. "We are staying away from them," said Henry Lu, senior vice president and cofounder of the company, who added that its shipments of netbooks are dropping.
Research firms also expect worldwide shipments of netbooks to fall in the coming years, with sales taken away by the popularity of tablets. IDC forecasts that netbook shipments will drop to 32.4 million units in 2011, a decrease from 35.6 million units last year.
Currently, netbooks account for 20% of the total portable PC market, said IDC analyst Helen Chiang. But in the next two to three years, that market share will drop down to 10% as vendors release new tablets with lower prices. Apple's iPad 2 is currently priced as low as $499.
Even as netbook sales go down, tablet shipments are forecast to explode this year. Shipments for the devices are projected to reach 54.8 million units in 2011, an increase of 181% from the previous year, according to research firm Gartner.
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