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$200 Eee PC Netbook Expected In 2009

Asustek CEO Jerry Shen said his company also would begin to phase out its sub-10-inch netbooks that sell for less than $500.

Asustek CEO Jerry Shen has reportedly said the Taiwanese computer maker will slowly phase out its sub-10-inch netbooks and plans to ship a $200 model next year.

Shen said the smaller netbooks will gradually be replaced with 10-inch models, DigiTimes, a newspaper that covers the Taiwan tech industry, reported Friday. Shen also clarified recent statements from company Chairman Jonney Shih that Asustek expected to ship 20 million notebooks and netbooks next year. Shen said that number wasn't a publicly announced goal and was for internal use only.

In releasing third quarter financial results, Shen said 70% of the netbooks shipped by Asustek have hard-disk drives, with the remainder having solid-state drives, the newspaper reported. The same ratio holds true for netbooks shipping with Windows XP and Linux, respectively.

Asustek sells netbooks under the Eee PC brand. In discussing pricing for midrange and entry-level Eee PCs, Shen said the company expects to introduce a $200 model in 2009.

Asustek shipped 1.7 million netbooks in the third quarter, and expects to ship 1.8 million units this quarter, which means the company would achieve its goal of 5 million units for the year, DigiTimes reported. Asustek expects to capture 30% of the netbook market next year, shipping from 6 million to 7.5 million units.

Asustek's success with the Eee PC has brought all the major computer makers into the market for netbooks, defined as sub-$500 notebooks with screen sizes of 10 inches or less. Asustek and Taiwanese rival Acer are major players in the netbook market today, but analysts say the recent entry of Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Sony, and others is likely to whittle away at the pioneers' market share.

Mini-notebook sales helped bolster the overall PC market in the third quarter as consumer spending weakened, according to Gartner. Netbook sales make up less than 5% of the overall PC market, but sales of the mini-notebooks, which are used primarily for e-mail and Web browsing, are growing fast.

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