Wed, Oct 08, 2008 - Page 12 News List

Asustek expects shipment growth for notebooks

By Elizabeth Tchii  /  STAFF REPORTER

Asustek Computer Inc (華碩電腦) expects its annual notebook and netbook computer shipments to total around 12 million units next year, up from 11 million units this year despite the global economic slowdown and sluggish consumer demand, a company official said yesterday.

The specific forecast will be released in December, Jerry Shen (沈振來) Asustek’s chief executive officer said in a media briefing yesterday.

The company’s notebook sales are expected to reach between 6.2 million and 6.3 million units, Shen said, adding that the Taipei-based company wants to expand its customer base and enter into the middle and high-end notebook market early next year.

The official’s remark was made after the company yesterday introduced the S101 Eee model, a slim laptop only 1.8cm thick and weighing less than 1kg.

Celebrating the Eee PC’s first anniversary yesterday, Asustek is confident that this S101 model priced at US$699 per unit will sell between 40,000 and 50,000 units in the first month, Shen said.

S101 will be available in the Asia Pacific region, specifically in Taiwan and Hong Kong, today. It is expected to be in stores and retailers in Europe by the middle of the month.

The retail price for S101 is NT$19,988 in Taiwan.

Asustek created a market for low-priced mini-laptops when it launched its first netbook Eee PC last October. Hewlett-Packard Co, Dell Inc and Acer Inc (宏碁) soon followed with their own low-cost laptops.

Shen also confirmed the company’s strategy to implement multi-brands to cater to different market groups.

The Eee brand offers low-end PCs priced between US$200 and US$1,000, while the Asus brand will target high-end PCs above US$1,000.

Shen said he does not fear that the two product groups under the same corporate umbrella would cannibalize each other, as the two types of products meet different computing needs.

He said computer shoppers look first at screen size in determining their purchase decisions. In North America and Europe, 80 percent of sales go towards 14-inch, 15-inch and 17-inch laptops.

“Anything under 10 inches we call a netbook; anything above 11 inches are notebooks. So far the netbook pie is bigger than we imagined,” he said.

Eee has sold more than 4 million netbooks worldwide in one year, he said.

“Eee’s new addition, the S101, is in the Eee family, but its added-value and innovative technology really make it a mid-tier product,” Shen said.

“With these two segments covered, we want to venture into the high-end market and you’ll start seeing new product offerings on the market early next year,” he said.

Other than netbooks, the Eee family also incorporates basic low-priced desktops.

The EeeTop touch screen desktop has also sold well in Europe. In August and last month, over 100,000 units of the EeeTop were sold globally, with sales coming primarily from Europe, with a bright outlook for this month.

Rather than just manufacturing PCs, over the last couple of months, the computer maker has also been focusing more on creating internal software to be installed on their computers that offers an unprecedented user experience.

An example falls under the concept of cloud computing. A person can take photos, send it to Asustek’s online storage system and then designate who gets access to this photo library.

“This bonus software will set Asus apart from other competitors and give us an edge in providing more than anyone else on the market,” Shen said.

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