Asus teased a few journalists and bloggers with a prototype of a netbook running Google Android and powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragom processor on the eve of Computex in June. But the prototype hasn’t been seen since, and according to PC World, it may never see the light of day. Asus CEO Jerry Shen reportedly says he doesn’t see a clear market for so-called “smartbooks” which feature low power ARM processors and run Linux, Windows CE, or Google Android instead of Windows XP, Vista, or 7.
Of course, with Google downplaying Android as a netbook operating system and preparing to launch the Google Chrome OS for netbooks soon, it might not be that surprising that Asus and other companies are having second thoughts about bringing netbooks running Android to market.
But the bigger question is whether customers are looking for always-on, laptop-style devices capable of connecting to 3g wireless networks. I mean, if that was where the description ended, the answer would be a resounding yes. But while these smartbooks are likely to sell for low prices of $200 or less up front, customers will likely have to pay $40 to $60 a month to use them, which drives up the price significantly.
Add to that the fact that an ARM-based device isn’t going to be able to run the Windows apps that many people are used to, such as Office or Photoshop, and smartbooks could be a tough sell. Of course, if they’re positioned as alternatives to smartphones instead of companion devices that you’re supposed to carry around in addition to a laptop and a cellphone, perhaps they could pick up some traction.
I have little doubt that if smartbooks take off as an industry segment, Asus will jump all over it. But over the last few years Asus has been more of an innovator than a follower. If Shen doesn’t see a market for smartbooks, I’m inclined to give his words some weight.
In related news, Asus announces its second quarter earnings yesterday, showing a net loss. Portfolio reports that Asus is banking on a series of product launches in the second half of the year to help the company recover.
I’m sitting here waiting, with money in hand. If Asus doesn’t want to make them, I’m sure somebody else will.
I wouldn’t worry much about ASUS and smartbooks. ASUS has a ver long and deep relationship with Intel and won’t offend them unless such a proven market exists that Intel would understand why they had to move.
Meanwhile Pegatron is hip deep in building ARM products for the OEM markets. Examine the corporate family tree and notice the relationship between Pegatron and ASUS. So while there won’t be anything with the ASUS name on it and an ARM under the cover anytime soon, a lot of the smartbooks that end up on the shelves will have been built in factories in the ASUS family.
The problem is wireless is way too expensive in the US. Even at $60 a month you still have to worry about data caps. When you figure what most people pay for voice & data contracts on their smartphone, why would you want to add another $60 a month? If you could share the plan between your smartphone and smartbook it would be OK, but you know the providers aren’t going to allow that.
Get a phone that can act as a wifi access point?
I know there’s an app for that for WinMo, and it surely wouldn’t be too hard to do on anything Linux-based (if it hasn’t already been done).
Amen. Paying for each device is dumb. That was what Bluetooth was all about, you keep a phone in your pocket and it provides network connectivity to your PAN. (Personal Area Network) Then the cell companies outlawed/disabled tethering and now all Bluetooth is good for is earpieces.
sure it would add a lot of cost, much like when anything new enters the market their is always a price tag which is up far more than you would honestly want to pay for it. but consider advantages different carriers would have if they actually allowed a combo deal? it would be immense. if you wanna follow the smartbook i suggest you look at https://www.smartbook.asia they do a dynamite job at tracking it
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