Asus Sold 4.9 Million Eee PC Netbooks Last Year

Asustek Computer (Asus) said Thursday that it sold 4.9 million of the devices last year, a figure that rival Acer believes it can best.

Asus, which pioneered the netbook market with its line of Eee PCs, missed its target of 5 million Eee PCs because of a sharp downturn in consumer spending near the end of last year as the world sank into recession, CEO Jerry Shen said during an investors conference on Thursday in Taipei.

Acer, the world's third-largest PC vendor, was Asustek's biggest rival in netbooks last year but has not yet announced 2008 shipments of its popular Aspire One. Acer executives last October reiterated a 6 million unit target.

Acer was a latecomer to the netbook market, launching its Aspire One in the second half of last year. But sales of the device soared due to its simplicity and the company's ability to launch globally, according to analysts.

Asus set a shipment target for the first quarter of this year of around 1 million Eee PCs, a sharp drop from the estimated 1.6 million the company shipped in the fourth quarter of last year. The company expects to ship around 800,000 laptop PCs.

Netbooks are mini-laptop PCs designed for mobility, typically sporting 7-inch to 10-inch screens and weighing less than 2 kilograms. Most netbook components, including the microprocessor, are less powerful than those of full-fledged laptops so batteries last longer. Netbooks are designed for handling e-mail, browsing the Internet and working on word processor or spreadsheet documents, not for heavy duty gaming, video editing or other multimedia work.

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