Asustek plans more Eee PCs as shipments take off

Asus plans to offer as many as three new Eee PC models in the next few months as shipments of the device take off.

Asustek Computer (Asus) plans to launch as many as three new Eee PC netbook models in the next few months as shipments of the popular devices take off.

The Taiwanese computer maker estimates it will sell between 1.5 million and 1.8 million Eee PCs in the third quarter, up from 1 million in the second quarter.

The figures show that the market for netbooks continues to heat up. Asus launched the first netbook last October, the original Eee PC with a 7-inch screen. In the first quarter, the company reported selling 700,000 Eee PCs.

Netbooks, or mini-laptops, are a new breed of device designed for mobility and surfing the Internet. They normally weigh about 1 kilogram (2.2 lbs), have 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, at between US$199 and US$599.

Asus also signed deals with four telecommunications network operators in Europe and Japan to sell Eee PCs packaged with 3G (third generation) mobile telecommunications contracts, the company said in a statement. Asus predicted it will win more such deals in coming months.

Asustek's rivals, including Elitegroup Computer Systems (ECS) and Acer have also been signing deals with network operators.

Asus said it will reveal details of new Eee PC models soon.

Global netbook shipments will likely reach 8.02 million this year and then more than double to 18.3 million units in 2009, according to Taiwan's Market Intelligence Center (MIC). Market researcher IDC says around 430,000 netbooks were shipped in 2007.

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Dan Nystedt

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