Asustek announced it would be dropping prices on its already affordable Eee PC netbook range. By 2009, we could already be seeing $200 EeePCs.
The PC maker, according to PC World, made the announcement during a quarterly earnings call with investors. Likely it might be a reaction to the now highly competitive netbook market. Acer, Asustek’s biggest rival, claims that shipping of its Aspire One netbook will reach 6 million, which is likely edge out Asustek’s popular Eee PC that targeted 5 million units this year. With Asus being the netbook pioneer, it would be quite the blow indeed.
Ever since Asus launched its first Eee PC, competitors from MSI, Dell and even HP have been attempting to get on the mini-laptop wagon. A key defining feature for the machines is minimal specs at a very attractive price. One factor that helped Asus keep its prices low was shipping its earliest models with Xandros Linux, though it is now selling XP versions.
Demand for the little machine seems to be steady despite economic uncertainties. Acer CEO Gianfranco Lanci said as much during the company’s third quarter investor’s conference in Taipei. Acer, as the third largest PC maker in the world behind HP and Dell, has the reach and size to get to more markets and ship more units simultaneously. Asustek in contrast is still building its marketing and sales channels.
Unless Asustek can improve its distribution means, it could likely fall far behind Acer. Earlier this year, the growth of the Eee PC was hampered by delays and problems in getting the machine to European markets.
While a price drop might prove enticing, Asustek needs to really work on getting the machines into the hands of the people who want them. Because with the stiff competition, any delay could just push customers to get their hands on the nearest available netbook instead of an Eee PC.