Asus: Eee PC shipments to soar in second quarter

Shipments of Asus's popular low-cost Eee PC are expected to nearly double in the second quarter.

Asustek Computer on Wednesday forecast it will nearly double shipments of the popular Eee PC low-cost laptop in the second quarter, compared to the first.

Eee PC shipments will rise to between 1.2 million to 1.3 million units in the three months ending June 30, Asustek said in presentation materials for its first quarter investors' conference. The company shipped 700,000 Eee PCs in the first quarter.

The company also expects to continue releasing new Eee PC models aimed at different user groups.

The original Eee PCs went on sale for prices as low as NT$7000 (AUD$244) for a stripped down version running a Linux OS late last year. The newest version, the Eee PC 900, has a larger 8.9-inch screen and other improvements, and launched in Taiwan earlier this month for NT$15,988 (AUD$557). The original Eee PC 701 sports a 7-inch screen. Both devices weigh less than a kilogram.

New versions of the Eee PC could sport more functions and better specifications, including larger screen sizes, executives have said. The company hopes to capitalize on the popularity of the device.

Shipments of the Eee PC have ramped up so fast that they could challenge the company's other laptop PC products. Asustek predicts it will sell between 1.3 million and 1.4 million notebook PCs during the second quarter, up from 1.3 million in the first quarter.

The company's Eee PC shipment target for this year is 5 million units.

Asustek's Eee PC is a low-cost laptop originally designed for people in developing nations, particularly kids. The device, which can access the Internet wirelessly through built-in Wi-Fi or an add-on HSDPA card has gained popularity for its efficient design and low price.

The device will likely face a lot more competition in the future. Several companies, including Acer, Micro-Star International, Elitegroup Computer Systems and Giga-byte Technology have all revealed plans to market a low-cost laptop similar to the Eee PC.

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