Asustek to hold netbook shipments flat as tablet sales grow

The pioneer of small laptop PCs also hopes to ship about 2 million tablets in 2011

Asustek Computer will hold production of netbooks at last year's levels as sales of tablets eat into the market for portable PCs, a company product specialist said on Friday.

The Taiwanese manufacturer, the first to come out with a netbook PC, aims to ship 6 million Eee PC netbooks again in 2011 as students and people traveling on business prefer those to the smaller media tablets, said Jose Liao, senior director of Asustek's systems products department. Tablets, he said, are more for fun.

Although Asustek does not expect tablets -- a rising star in the PC industry -- to displace its small laptops, Liao says they may erode 10 to 20 percent of netbook shipments for the industry as a whole. The company also expects to push out about 2 million tablets this year.

"One is for enjoyment and the other one is for business," Liao said on the sidelines of Asustek's news conference for the Taiwan launch of its Eee Pad Transformer, a tablet that runs Google's Android 3.0 Honeycomb OS. "But there will be some impact on netbooks."

In 2007, Asustek effectively pioneered mass-marketed netbooks with the release of its Eee PC 700. The manufacturer is now focused on designing 10-inch and 12-inch netbooks as it chases a 20 percent share for the market for such machines this year.

The company also aims to ship 14 million larger laptops this year. The target for netbooks and other laptops combined, if met, would mark a 30 percent shipment increase over 2010.

Asustek's cross-town rival Acer also has said it will not phase out netbooks despite plans for a series of tablet computers.

Acer announced in November plans to make tablets with 5-inch, 7-inch and 10-inch screens running Android operating systems.

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