Acer, Asus Stop Producing Netbooks

Dennis Faas's picture

Two prominent PC manufacturers have stopped making netbook computers. The move, announced by both Acer and Asus, suggests some PC makers may now see the netbook form factor as an unattractive compromise between tablet and laptop computers.

A netbook is an especially lightweight, compact, and cheap laptop computer. Many netbooks, like the Hewlett-Packard (HP) Mini, feature a 10.1-inch screen, 1 or 2GBs of RAM, and a sub-500GB hard drive. Netbooks usually retail for under $500.

Netbooks became extremely popular four or five years ago, as the global economy took a turn for the worse.

The cheaper, less capable computers appealed to people who wanted to work on the move, but didn't need more powerful PCs with their higher price points.

Netbook users seemed content with a machine that carried out only basic computing tasks, such as checking email, web browsing, and supporting light office work.

Tablets May Have Made Netbook Redundant

Some observers now believe the netbook format is no longer so appealing. With the emergence of tablet computers, like Apple's iPad and Microsoft's Surface, touchscreen tablet devices have become even smaller than netbooks.

Tablets also allow PC manufacturers to rely on dedicated operating systems designed for mobile devices, rather than trying to adapt desktop-capable operating systems like Windows.

The change in operating system strategies removed both the logistical burden and also a financial one. Netbooks using the Windows operating system had to pay Microsoft about $30-$50 per copy in licensing fees. On a low-priced netbook, this cut deeply into profit margins. (Source:

Another factor explaining the netbook's demise is that "full-sized" laptops have become much cheaper in recent years. Most laptops remain more expensive than most netbooks, but the price difference has been drastically reduced.

Netbooks Could Return Under New Name

While Acer and Asus have now stopped making netbooks, some observers claim the netbook category is not yet dead.

Harry McCracken of TIME magazine writes that PC manufacturers will always be competing to produce portable computers that are smaller, lighter, and cheaper, with a longer battery life.

He asserts that, at some point, manufacturers will produce new devices that resemble netbooks, even if they no longer go by that name. (Source:

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