updated 11:05 pm EDT, Wed March 16, 2011
ASUS netbook may hit 200-250 to dodge iPad
New tips from part suppliers late Wednesday maintained that ASUS and Intel are planning a very low-cost netbook that would help it minimize the impact of tablets like the iPad. The netbook would cost no more than $250 and could cost as little as $200. Much of the cost savings would come from the choice of OS, Digitimes heard: the netbook would run Chrome OS or even Android 3.0, and as a result drop the costly Windows 7 license.
It isn't clear which of the two platfoms would be used, although Chrome OS is more likely. ASUS had been identified early on as a Chrome OS partner and is believed to have such a netbook in the works for the second half of the year, but Intel has also been rumored to be making a large push for x86-based Android devices at the Intel Developer Forum in Beijing this April. The goal would be to focus on tablets, but ASUS has been regularly experimenting with crossover Android form factors like the Eee Pad Transformer.
Android 3.0 is so far still focused on tablets and isn't known to have mouse input, but it's more suited to netbooks through its emphasis on apps at the same 10-inch screen size as most netbooks. ASUS itself has also promised netbooks with mobile platforms this year.
Regardless of the OS choice, the netbook would be meant to create a clear price gap between conventional designs and tablets, which start at $300 for budget models from name brands but scale up to $499 for the iPad 2 and beyond. The division would help ASUS meet its target of selling six million netbooks in 2011 by preventing some from being easily tempted by tablets. ASUS' long-time rival Acer has so far resisted price cuts and instead tried to deny any effect from the iPad and its kin as long as possible, even insisting that Apple wouldn't be a problem this month without anticipating the iPad 2.
Others also dismissed the effect for months and did little to drop prices, but it has been more of an issue in 2011 as the effect became clear. Microsoft itself has noticed a drag on Windows without a viable tablet OS of its own.