Acer Says Netbooks Aren't Dead

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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  • someguynamedmatt
    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.
  • belardo
    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.
  • bustapr
    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...