Acer Says Netbooks Aren't Dead

While the market is seemingly shifting away from netbooks and eying tablets like children in a candy shop, Taiwan-based Acer still believes there's a healthy market for the form factor despite the current netbooks-are-dead debate. Sure, the company has jumped onto the tablet bandwagon and is pulling a few models out of its pocket this year, but its netbook portfolio continues to grow as the hardware approaches the notebook sector while keeping prices attractively low.

"Tablets have impacted overall netbook sales, but we’re not stepping away from the [netbook] segment," says Eric Ackerson, an Acer senior product marketing and brand manager. "We think there’s still opportunity for sales, including in the U.S."

The death of netbooks seemed immanent when Apple launched the first iPad in 2010 and the computer industry was left starstruck. Now manufacturers like Motorola, Dell, Lenovo, Asus and HP are cranking out various tablets to meet the current demand. But one factor consumers are beginning to see is that the coveted devices hover between $499 and $829, depending on the hardware and mobile connectivity. Netbooks are notably less.

As pointed out by Forbes, Acer's current best-selling netbook on Amazon is a 10.1-inch Aspire One costing $252. The average price of Amazon's top ten netbooks hovers around $300 whereas the average price of Amazon's best-selling tablets is a heftier $472. Naturally both have their advantages and disadvantages, but Acer feels that many consumers still favor the physical QWERTY keyboard over the virtual touchscreen version.

Product Manager John Karabian also points to the netbook's overall evolution, indicating that they pack quite a punch gien the low pricetag, getting ever so closer to notebook performance. Acer spokeswoman Lisa Emard added that the death of netbooks is simply overstated. "We may not see the same explosive growth [in the category] as before, but the netbook price point is still killer," she said.

Acer replaced its longtime Chief Executive Gianfranco Lanci back in March, claiming that he failed to recognize the importance of emerging devices like tablets. The company has since established a separate business division that will focus solely on smartphones and tablets, recognizing that the devices require a different set of hardware and operating systems than its notebooks, laptops and desktops.

While consumers are dazzled by the new crop of tablets hitting store shelves packed with Google's Android 3.0 "Honeycomb" OS, and Apple is currently thrashing them all with the just-released iPad 2, those watching gas prices continue to rise and wallet contents continue to diminish may not find the tablet offers quite so attractive. Instead, netbooks continuously stay low in price while increasing in performance, indicating that the sector may have caught its second wind after all.

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