Asustek Computer, a top manufacturer of netbook PCs, anticipates a global slowdown in growth of the lightweight laptops as tablets gain ground.
The Taipei-based manufacturer expects to ship about 6 million Eee PC netbooks this year for a 20 percent market share, little change from the 6 million shipped in 2010, it said Friday.
Overall netbook sales are expected to decline this year due to competition from the rise of smaller, lighter tablet PCs and "price performance" issues, said Peter Lin, a sector analyst with iSuppli in Taipei. Actual numbers of shipments will decline, he predicted.
"Tablets are one reason, and another is that price performance isn't so good," Lin with iSuppli said. "Netbook efficiency isn't up to that of other PCs."
But other experts question whether tablets will replace netbooks.
To compete with tablet PCs, Asustek will make netbooks more "personalized with special designs" and include cloud storage applications, Asustek general sales manager Kevin Lin earlier told Taiwan's Central News Agency. It plans to introduce two or three other models this year and is looking to developing economies for netbook sales, the local news agency reported.
"Although the netbook market will grow at a moderate pace, we are still looking for growth in the segment that will be driven by our product diversity and expanded channels in emerging countries such as Indonesia and Brazil," Lin was quoted by CNA as saying.
Acer, also a top netbook maker, said on Thursday that its models would not be phased out despite predictions from a Taiwan sales manager earlier in the week.
The Acer sales manager on Friday took back that statement and reversed an earlier forecast that the firm's future tablets would use chips based on Intel's Sandy Bridge architecture.