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Netbook Market To Wind Up At End Of 2012 – Acer Turns Focus To Touchscreen Ultrabooks

Digitimes’ Monica Chen and Joseph Tsai report that the last two netbook makers standing – Asustek Computer and Acer, are both winding up netbook production, and the netbook market will officially end after the two vendors finish digesting their remaining inventories.

The MacObserver’s Bryan Chaffin observes that the late Steve Jobs and Apple’s then COO Tim Cook made the right call in staying out of the netbook market despite strong criticism for so doing, quoting Tim Cook commenting at the time:

“We’re watching [the netbook space]. Right now from our point of view, the products in there are principally based on hardware that’s much less powerful than we think customers want, software technology that is not good, cramped keyboards, small displays, etc.”

Chaffin observes gleefully that even following its bear contraction, Apple’s stock has risen just 568 percent since Cook made that comment. “If only the company had released a netbook,” he deadpans.

The Register’s Neil McAllister notes that while analysts were initially bullish on netbooks because of their compact size and low price tags, and it was easy to overlook that their real-world performance was generally lackluster, while their miniaturized keyboards often made even basic word processing a chore and tiny, low-resolution screens made for a cramped desktop experience.

McAllister expects that PC Ultrabooks will likely fare better in the market than netbooks did, in large part due to their not being in a race to the bottom for manufacturers, but instead carry premium specs and price tags to match.

Touchscreen Offers New Opportunity For PC brands Says Acer President JIm Wong

Digitimes’ Aaron Lee and Joseph Tsai report Acer president Jim Wong’s take on the state of the PC industry, which saw several major developments in 2012, such as the rise of ARM-based products that greatly weakened the influence of the Wintel platform and Microsoft’s launch of Windows 8.

These changes have brought both challenges and opportunities to brand vendors, Mr. Wong told the reporters in an interview with Digitimes, and who takes the optimistic view that innovations such as the confluence of Windows 8 and touchscreen control will allow vendors to make breakthroughs and revitalize the PC industry.

Mr. Wong is still bullish on Windows 8, and contends that many of the concerns and criticisms it’s been receiving have been rather unfair, but he concedes that it’s a new system that consumers must learn, and the learning process has been an impediment to it taking off quickly, adding that companies must take risks when introducing innovations, and consequently it’s still too early to say whether Windows 8 is a success or not.

As for the Windows RT operating system developed jointly by Microsoft and ARM, Mr Wong said Acer does plan to eventually release Windows RT-based products, but company’s current strategy is to focus on Windows 8 with x86 architecture since the major demand from Windows users is still related to data management.

Mr. Wong affirms that Acer believes touchscreen notebooks’ shipment proportion will continue to rise to eventually surpass that for traditional notebooks and become the mainstream in the market, but acceptance and the replacement process may take 2-3 years to complete, and that the supply of touch panels will also be a major factor affecting the penetration of touchscreen notebooks in the PC market. He also thinks high definition displays a la the Retina MacBook Pros will definitely become a trend, but wonders why pple opted npt to adopt touchscreen control with the rMBPs.

For the full report of the interview, see:
http://www.digitimes.com/news/a20121203PD208.html

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