First International Computer (FIC), which manufactures laptop computers for other companies, estimates it will ship 300,000 netbooks this year, and predicts that figure will nearly triple in 2009.
FIC is a Taiwanese contract electronics manufacturer and has been shipping mini-notebooks for several months to computer maker Everex, an affiliate company. Everex's Cloudbook, for example, is made by FIC.
The company believes that hype around the Eee PC and other mini-notebooks will boost sales around the world. Next year, sales will be even bigger. The company forecasts its mini-laptop sales could reach up to 800,000 units next year, a company representative said.
FIC is currently making mini-notebooks with 7-inch, 8.9-inch and 10.2-inch screens and is one of the few companies that designs laptops around microprocessors from both Intel and Via Technologies of Taiwan.
The new 10.2-inch screen size is meant to compete with rivaling devices from Micro-Star International (MSI), the Wind, and Asustek's Eee PC 1000. Everex will launch the device later this year.
One major change FIC foresees is most companies dropping 7-inch screens from their mini-notebooks.
"We think 7-inch will be replaced by 8.9-inch and 10.2-inch. Seven-inch is too small," the representative said.
The FIC representative said using Via processors made his company more flexible. People from several companies in Taiwan have expressed nervousness about the supply of Atom chips from Intel, despite promises from the chip giant to increase production at its factories to meet demand. Taiwanese mini-laptop makers still expect a shortage of Atom processors.
"If there's a problem with Atom, we'll be ready," he said.