If you think there are a lot of low-cost ultraportable computers hitting the market this year, just wait. Intel officials say the company expects low-cost computer shipments to top 100 million between now and 2011. Meanwhile, Asus president Jerry Shen expects to sell 10 million Eee PCs in 2008 and twice as many next year. This all according to a report from DigiTimes.
Now, this could all be a case of counting chickens before they hatch. After all, while the Asus Eee PC is selling like pancakes, all that shows is that the computer is filling a niche. It remains to be seen exactly how large that niche is. Originally low-cost computers like the XO Laptop and the Classmate PC were targeted at educational markets and developing nations. Now we’re starting to see similar computers marketed toward consumers in developed nations as well. But does everybody who owns a computer need a low-powered device without an optical drive to compliment their existing desktop or laptop? I mean, I know I do, but I’m a bit crazy like that.
On the other hand, we’re starting to see another trend in the liliputing market. While the first few low-cost laptops like the XO, Classmate, and Eee PC all sported flash memory and slow processors, newer models like the HP 2133 come packed with large hard drives and marginally faster processors. And soon Intel and VIA will each release their next generation low-voltage, high(er) performance chips which should give these tiny laptops quite a speed boost, making it possible that we could start to see people picking liliputers up as primary computers, not secondary ones.