Acer revises down Aspire one netbook shipment target

Acer revised down its Aspire one netbook shipment target due to launch delays.

Component supply problems and software development delays caused Acer to delay the launch of its Aspire one netbook by a month, leading it to revise down its shipment target for this year.

The world's third-largest PC vendor now expects to ship 5 million to 6 million Aspire ones in 2008, down from a previous estimate of 5 million to 7 million, said Gianfranco Lanci, CEO of Acer, during a conference call.

"Originally, the plan was to ship by the end of May," Lanci said. "We lost about one month for different reasons."

Despite the product delay, Lanci remains bullish on prospects for the Aspire one. He said that demand appears to be strong for the product and that Acer is talking to 3G (third generation) mobile network operators to supply them with Aspire one laptops built to access the Internet via their networks.

Aspire one is among a new breed of mini-laptops that weigh less than 1 kilogram (2.2 lbs), sport 7-inch to 10-inch LCD screens, carry long-lasting batteries and connect wirelessly to the Internet. They generally cost far less than the average notebook PC as well, between US$199 and $599.

The market for netbooks was jump started by the Eee PC from Asustek Computer of Taiwan. Asustek has only forecast sales of five million Eee PCs this year, even though the company has had a six-month head start over Acer. Analysts say Acer's size is its advantage over Asustek. Acer is active in all major markets and can launch products in multiple markets at the same time. Asustek isn't as adept at such large-scale product launches yet.

Acer's Lanci also allayed fears of a component shortage for netbooks or laptops. He said there are no visible component shortages right now, but that if Acer ships more than 6 million Aspire ones, there could be a problem. He declined to say what components might be in shortage.

Last year, a serious shortage of laptop batteries threatened shipments, and supplies have remained tight due to brisk growth in the overall laptop PC market.

PC vendors have also voiced concerns that Intel might not be able to supply enough Atom microprocessors for their netbooks, a fear Intel has answered by saying it is prepared to "hose" the chips out of its factories, if necessary. PC makers like the chips because they conserve battery life by running at low power levels, take up little space inside devices and give off little heat.

Lanci was asked if the delay in launching the Aspire one was caused by a delay in the Atom. He declined to respond.

Excluding the Aspire one, Acer expects to ship 25 million laptop PCs this year and as many as 30 million next year. Demand for laptop PCs remains brisk, Lanci said.

"We really don't see any slowdown in demand," he said.

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