Last week Asus announced that it was discontinuing the 8.9-inch Eee PC, reports have emerged that say all netbook vendors are dropping the price of their 8.9-inch models in order to clear inventory. Is this the end of the 8.9 inch netbook?
A while back a story broke regarding talks between HP and Intel. HP was apparently trying to get Intel to ease its restrictions on its Atom processor so that it could use the ever so popular netbook CPU in netbooks with larger panels. Digitimes reported that HP's '09 roadmap showed the company hoped to add both an 11.6-inch model and a 13.3-inch model to its netbook line, with the 11.6-inch expected sometime in Q2 '09 and the 13.3-inch in June ’09.
The fact that manufacturers are discontinuing smaller netbooks and expressing the need for netbooks with larger panels suggests that the small panels aren’t really hitting the spot for consumers. That said, Asus has said the company will be keeping its 7-inch Eee PC as well as its 10-inch, detailing that 95 percent of Eee netbooks will be 10-inch models and 7-inch models will make up the other 5 percent, lending weight to the idea that the middling 8.9-inch sized panel is a sort of no man’s land market, which is neither big enough nor small enough.
This will likely bring about all kinds of trouble for Intel’s Atom. While HP is eager to see the restrictions eased so it can bring out bigger, Atom-based netbooks, Intel is probably going to be a little wary of making the Atom available for anything bigger than an 11-inch panel (the current restriction stands at a reported 10.2 inches, Dell Mini 12 aside). Intel has certain limitations on the Atom so as not to cannibalize sales of their more expensive CPUs. Basically, if you want to build a something bigger than 10.2 (and you're not Dell), you’ll have to use a more expensive processor like a Celeron or Pentium Dual Core.