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Acer Says Netbooks Aren't Dead

By - Source: Forbes | B 34 comments

Acer will continue to manufacture netbooks despite the current tablet craze, betting on their low price point.

While the market is seemingly shifting away from netbooks and eying tablets like children in a candy shop, Taiwan-based Acer still believes there's a healthy market for the form factor despite the current netbooks-are-dead debate. Sure, the company has jumped onto the tablet bandwagon and is pulling a few models out of its pocket this year, but its netbook portfolio continues to grow as the hardware approaches the notebook sector while keeping prices attractively low.

"Tablets have impacted overall netbook sales, but we’re not stepping away from the [netbook] segment," says Eric Ackerson, an Acer senior product marketing and brand manager. "We think there’s still opportunity for sales, including in the U.S."

The death of netbooks seemed immanent when Apple launched the first iPad in 2010 and the computer industry was left starstruck. Now manufacturers like Motorola, Dell, Lenovo, Asus and HP are cranking out various tablets to meet the current demand. But one factor consumers are beginning to see is that the coveted devices hover between $499 and $829, depending on the hardware and mobile connectivity. Netbooks are notably less.

As pointed out by Forbes, Acer's current best-selling netbook on Amazon is a 10.1-inch Aspire One costing $252. The average price of Amazon's top ten netbooks hovers around $300 whereas the average price of Amazon's best-selling tablets is a heftier $472. Naturally both have their advantages and disadvantages, but Acer feels that many consumers still favor the physical QWERTY keyboard over the virtual touchscreen version.

Product Manager John Karabian also points to the netbook's overall evolution, indicating that they pack quite a punch gien the low pricetag, getting ever so closer to notebook performance. Acer spokeswoman Lisa Emard added that the death of netbooks is simply overstated. "We may not see the same explosive growth [in the category] as before, but the netbook price point is still killer," she said.

Acer replaced its longtime Chief Executive Gianfranco Lanci back in March, claiming that he failed to recognize the importance of emerging devices like tablets. The company has since established a separate business division that will focus solely on smartphones and tablets, recognizing that the devices require a different set of hardware and operating systems than its notebooks, laptops and desktops.

While consumers are dazzled by the new crop of tablets hitting store shelves packed with Google's Android 3.0 "Honeycomb" OS, and Apple is currently thrashing them all with the just-released iPad 2, those watching gas prices continue to rise and wallet contents continue to diminish may not find the tablet offers quite so attractive. Instead, netbooks continuously stay low in price while increasing in performance, indicating that the sector may have caught its second wind after all.

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  • 0 Hide
    someguynamedmatt , May 6, 2011 12:06 AM
    No, they're not. I know the good old parents are about to buy one to take on vacation places, because a touch screen just doesn't fly with them, and they don't want/need a full-size laptop. A cheap netbook is all they need for things like checking weather, maps, shop hours, etc. Nothing wrong with a good netbook whatsoever.
  • -1 Hide
    belardo , May 6, 2011 12:32 AM
    Tablets and netbooks both have a place. But both are very different devices.

    Netbooks have a full blown OS installed, even if its feature reduced - such as Windows7 or Linux. You turn them on and wait about a minute before you can do anything with them.

    A tablet such as an ipad, you swipe the screen and its on. Wait about 2~5 seconds to lock onto your network and you're ready to go.

    $300 vs $500 for a typical netbook vs tablet... is important.

    As most netbook players leave the market - that will allow ASUS and Acer to remain in the market.

    Tablets are easier to use for people who DON'T like or understand computers.

    If Acer wants to make a new type of netbook, make one with Android installed that will boot up in a second. They should be able to sell it for LESS than the regular Netbook. Since (A) it has a 16~32GB flash drive rather than a 40~120GB HDD and (B) not buying a $20 per license of Windows7.

    For faster netbooks, use AMD-Fusion E-350, such as those used in SONY netbooks. ATOM has no place in the market anymore.

    Lenovo sells a low-end netbook like 11.6" unit for $400, its less than an inch thick... its barely a notebook and still cheaper than any tablet.

    Also, the future netbooks should have GPS built in.

    Sorry, traveling in another city and pulling up GPS location info made the iPad more useful than any current netbook I can think of.

  • 0 Hide
    bustapr , May 6, 2011 12:40 AM
    if they make a super light normal laptop as cheap as a netbook, I wouldnt mind it dying. But since I doubt that will happen, Im thinking of buying a cheap netbook for college. my current 6 lb monster kills my back every day...
  • Display all 34 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    fir_ser , May 6, 2011 1:08 AM
    It’s true, netbooks aren't dead yet, although part of their market share was eaten out by the tables.
  • 0 Hide
    5teviewonders , May 6, 2011 1:21 AM
    I think i remember reading that Acer were discontinuing netbooks in favour of tablets just a few months ago. Back and forth.
  • 0 Hide
    iam2thecrowe , May 6, 2011 1:58 AM
    5teviewondersI think i remember reading that Acer were discontinuing netbooks in favour of tablets just a few months ago. Back and forth.

    did you read that in braille?
  • -3 Hide
    sceen311 , May 6, 2011 2:18 AM
    Netbooks will die, Tablets will stay. That is the way it is. Move on. Nothing to see here people.
  • 1 Hide
    enewmen , May 6, 2011 2:26 AM
    I have a C-50 netbook. After getting 4 gigs RAM, Win 7 x64, SSD, etc. I now have a very capable notebook. It still costs me less than $600 and out performs my heafty, muscular, 5-year old notebook. That's much easier to carry than a full-size notebook with 3 times the battery life. Try playing Oblivion, using Photoshop, or doing software development on a tablet.
    For tablets, I'll never get one - will rather have an Android 4"-5" phone with the power of a tablet and can always carry with me in my pocket. Tablets always where just big phones that can't make calls anyway.
    my 2c
  • 0 Hide
    ProDigit10 , May 6, 2011 2:26 AM
    Netbooks died the moment they went from 9" toys to >9" mini laptops, with a price tag much over a performance/price ratio of a laptop.

    Netbooks where supposed to be $99 devices, not $300.
    They had too many expensive extra's, while cutting too much on battery life, and plugging in a slower harddrive instead of a smaller ssd.

    If manufacturers would produce netbooks with 2GB of ram, large battery, and a 20GB SSD, instead of a 200GB HD that's slow as hell, people might want to buy netbooks again!

    It's the marketing that has gone astray, with shiny at the cost of performance!
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , May 6, 2011 2:29 AM
    I have a iPhone, Gaming Performance PC, 17inch Laptop, netbook, and a iPad. O have uses for all of them and they offer great ability to do different things.
  • 1 Hide
    ProDigit10 , May 6, 2011 2:32 AM
    sceen311Netbooks will die, Tablets will stay. That is the way it is. Move on. Nothing to see here people.

    Not by the least!
    I as well as many others regret the absence of a keyboard and hardware mouse.
    What do you have when you buy a $500 tablet pc, with a $150 keyboard docking station?
    You have a $300 netbook!

    For that many are willing to leave tablets. They want keyboards and mice!
    Not touchscreen
    Touchscreen is fancy and all that, but way less handy than a keyboard!

    And as usual it's the marketing guys who're at fault for creating nothing but bling, that does not perform!
    And the battle of 'performance and good gear', and 'bling shiny unnecessarily crappy and slow plastic gear' continues...
  • -1 Hide
    NuclearShadow , May 6, 2011 2:41 AM
    I've shopped for tablets, I have never shopped for a netbook or have ever had the thought cross my mind to do so for myself at-least (I was very close to buying one for my then 3 year old son). I really don't see the point in them at all. The weak hardware greatly limits their possible functions and most basic functions can actually be done on the tablets. Then there is the price issue, any "decent" netbook costs just under a laptop with much superior hardware.
  • 0 Hide
    5teviewonders , May 6, 2011 2:43 AM
    iam2thecrowedid you read that in braille?

    A quick search found this.
    They were cutting down production.
  • 0 Hide
    ginnai , May 6, 2011 3:21 AM
    Acer is completely on point with this sentiment. I own a netbook and a PC... and I have no interest in tablets or docking phones. The price point is well balanced, just about half of a PC. Speed is only one measure of performance, the strength of netbooks is their size and battery length. Netbook software packaging declined as the "netbook bubble" formed, but hopefully now that that market is stabilizing we can see the reintroduction of bundled software on netbooks. In any event, I look forward to more offerings in the netbook category; AMD's APU and netbooks is an area I intend to keep an eye on.
  • 1 Hide
    therandomuser , May 6, 2011 3:46 AM
    Honestly, I don't see why Intel isn't dropping the Atom line when Ivy Bridge is out. Ivy has a smaller footprint in the fab process and has the better Sandy architecture. Atom has always been crap. It's just a modified, miniaturized, Pentium 4, HyperThreading and all. Seriously, the thing runs slower than molasses, and it is quite literally half the size (90mm P4 to 45mm Atom).

    I'm thinking that the Atom naming was an inside joke to all the Intel guys. The processor sometimes feels like it's running on just one silicon atom.

    My Acer Aspire One went to my dad as soon as I was able to get a new laptop. Never gonna touch that thing again. I might step back in for the AMD Fusion netbooks, as tablets don't have the exact tick for me. In my eyes, Fusion will be the one that will keep netbooks and smaller-end notebooks alive.

    Always been happy with Intel Innovation, but right now AMD Applicability is king in price to power in the lower end markets.
  • 1 Hide
    sonofliberty08 , May 6, 2011 3:53 AM
    netbook not yet dead , but nearly dead ... is all bcos of the crappy atom ...... now the fusion will bring it to life again ~
  • 0 Hide
    thegreathuntingdolphin , May 6, 2011 4:47 AM
    netbook not yet dead , but nearly dead ... is all bcos of the crappy atom ...... now the fusion will bring it to life again ~

    I agree. I think Fusion will bring netbooks's definitely where I am looking for my next mobile pc platform.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 6, 2011 5:02 AM
    AMD C-50 and E-350 netbooks are quite nice to use imo,they have a fullblown desktop OS,good battery life and just enough performance for day to day use.The prices are not bad too.I just wish manufacturers would stop putting such crappy screens on them.It doesn't have to be IPS or VA,a good quality TN is enough...
  • 0 Hide
    mitch074 , May 6, 2011 7:55 AM
    The problem with current netbooks is that they don't have much in common with what they were supposed to be: cheap, sturdy PC companions with little RAM, little SDD space and a multifunction OS+apps installed - at least, the first Eee was just like that.

    Then, Microsoft came and said: 'all netbooks must have Windows'. Exit the SDD, for pathetic hard disks; hitch up the price, for more RAM; remove features, for crippled Windows starter edition.

    My Acer Aspire One, which came with Win7 Starter originally, got so pathetically slow as soon as I installed a real web browser, that it soon found itself reformatted with Ubuntu 10.04 LTS. And guess what?

    - it cold boots in 30 seconds from pressing the power button to the HD light stopping to shine (it stays solidly on during the whole boot) on the Gnome desktop; from that point, starting Firefox, Thunderbird, Pidgin and OpenOffice all together requires another 20 seconds. Not bad for 1 Gb of RAM.

    - it retains more than 145 Gb of disk space once everything is installed.

    Putting a 32 Gb SDD on such a system wouldn't have increased its price - but it sure would have improved its boot speed and resilience.
  • 0 Hide
    jsc , May 6, 2011 8:00 AM
    The big problem with netbooks was that many owners tried to make them do things that they weren't designed to do.
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