Tablets won't threaten the netbook market, claims Asus

Computer chasing devil

Asus chief executive Jerry Shen has revealed further details about the company's forthcoming Eee Pad tablet, insisting that tablets had their own place in the market and weren't a direct threat to netbooks.

The Taiwanese company, which arguably created the netbook genre thanks to 2007's original Eee PC, will offer the Eee Pad in two variants one powered by an ARM processor and running either Android or Chrome, and a second featuring an Intel Atom chip and running Windows 7.

The Eee Pad will have an iPad-matching 10in screen, and no fan, with Asus promising a device that is "thin and light". Both versions will be designed by Asus and manufactured by Pegatron, formerly Asus' manufacturing arm until a recent split.

The Windows version of the Eee Pad is expected to make its first official public appearance at the Computex 2010 show next month, with the Google-based version to follow at a later date. But Shen believes there is little overlap between its tablet and netbook operations, with the latter still holding plenty of potential for growth.

Announcing surprisingly strong first quarter profits of $158 million yesterday a 10-fold increase on the same period last year - Shen said Asus aims to ship between seven and eight million Eee PCs in 2010 to hold on to second place in the market with a 20 per cent global share.

However, he warned that growth in the netbook market was slowing, with overall shipments of Intel's Atom processor expected to rise to between 35 and 40 million units in 2010, up from 32 million last year. And despite insisting that netbooks and tablets could co-exist, Shen did concede that the iPad's success in the US where it has sold more than one million units in just one month had affected Asus' netbook sales to at least some degree.

"The sales momentum of our netbooks has been slowing down in the US, although it is still growing in Europe," Shen said, before suggesting there was a "10 to 20 per cent" overlap between the netbook and tablet markets.

Overall, Asus forecasts combined netbook and notebook shipments of 18 million units in 2010, a 50 per cent increase over last year.