With the PC industry in decidedly bad shape lately, PC vendors have been looking for alternative ways to generate revenues in a computer market that’s increasingly tilted toward mobile devices. IDG News, via PCWorld, reports that Asus plans to release its first Chromebook in the second half of 2013 while hoping to continue the success it’s had so far in shipping Android tablets. Asus has no illusions that Chromebooks will be mass consumer products, but Asus CEO Jerry Shen tells IDG News that the “Chromebook is good, not on the consumer side, but it’s good in the education and government side, and some for the commercial side.” IDG notes that Asus shipped 3 million Android tablets in the first quarter of 2013, so it’s clear that the company is more than willing to look beyond Microsoft for operating systems for its devices.
A handful of companies are said to be preparing new Chromebook models that will launch later this year. According to a report from Digitimes, both Acer and ASUS are optimistic about the long-term prospects of Google’s Chromebooks and are working on low-priced computers that will debut in the second half of 2013. Acer is reportedly planning to target students with a new 11.6-inch model to be released in July, while new Chrome OS-powered computers are expected from ASUS, HP, Samsung and Lenovo later this year. Of note, ASUS never planned to enter the market but has apparently rethought its strategy. Google is also said to be working with ASUS, Acer, HP and Samsung on so-called “Androidbooks” that could debut in the near future.
The CEO of ASUS (2357) has set an ambitious goal for his company: To become the largest vendor for touchscreen notebooks, and the second-largest for all notebooks and tablets in 2013. Digitimes reports that CEO Jerry Shen set the goal at a recent meeting with investors, adding that the company also plans to launch new smartphones in August. In the most recent quarter, ASUS generated a majority of its profit from sales of its notebook computers, which totaled 59% of revenue, followed by the success of its Transformer line of tablets. The company recently announced two new hybrid devices, the PadFone and FonePad, at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and look to increase its smartphone market share around the world.
Why? Seriously, Asus (2357). Why? This question bears asking, as going hands-on with Asus’ new Fonepad truly requires some big hands. Single-handed operation is a thing of the past. Remember when diminutive phones were the latest trend? When iPod grew smaller and smaller and RAZRs got thinner and thinner? Wave goodbye, dear friends. That age is long gone. More →
I admit it: I’m normally a sucker for hybrid devices that cleverly combine form factors or integrate functionality between smartphones, laptops and tablets. I really liked how Microsoft (MSFT) implemented the Surface Touch Cover, for instance, and I was also a fan of Motorola’s Webtop software that let you plug your smartphone into a laptop dock. There’s just one problem with many these hybrids, however: There’s no evidence that most consumers want to buy them even if they’re well implemented, as Motorola discontinued the Webtop platform last fall and Microsoft has reportedly sold well under 1 million Surface RT tablets. More →
Google (GOOG) doesn’t reveal sales figures for its Nexus smartphones and tablets, however that hasn’t stopped people from speculating and trying to figure out just how many devices the company has sold. Mobile industry analyst Benedict Evans crunched numbers from ASUS (2357), the manufacturer of the Nexus 7, and found that Google likely sold between 4.5 million to 4.6 million units of its flagship 7-inch tablet. The estimates were derived using overall tablet sales reported by ASUS and various statements from the company’s CEO. While sales of nearly 5 million units is respectable, it falls significantly short of the competition. Evans estimates that despite being released in November, Apple (AAPL) may have sold around 10 million iPad mini tablets and Amazon’s (AMZN) new Kindle Fire likely “outsold the Nexus 7 as well.”
It has been long rumored that ASUS (2357) was working on a new low-end Android tablet, and earlier reports were confirmed on Monday when Asus announced its new 7-inch MeMo Pad. The device looks nearly identical to the Nexus 7 Asus launched with Google (GOOG) but will likely cost 25% less than Google’s entry-level slate. The MeMo Pad is equipped with a 7-inch 1024 x 600 pixel resolution display, a 1GHz single-core VIA WM8950 processor, 8GB or 16GB of internal storage, 1GB of RAM, a 1-megapixel front-facing camera and Android 4.1. Unlike the Nexus 7, the MeMo Pad also includes a microSD slot for additional storage. ASUS did not reveal pricing or availability although it has been widely reported that the MeMo Pad will be offered for $149.
The PC industry is in shambles and manufacturers have begun to explore new options to increase revenue. According to The Wall Street Journal, ASUS (2357) is in talks with Microsoft (MSFT) on a licensing deal to offer Windows Phone 8 device. This makes sense for ASUS since smartphone shipments increased by nearly 50% in 2012, compared to a mere 3.2% growth in computer shipments, and the company already has experience in the mobile world after developing a variety of Android tablets. More →
It’s been rumored for a while that Google (GOOG) and ASUS (2357) are working on a $99 Nexus tablet. Although benchmarks can easily be faked, a new GLBenchmark for a tablet identified as only “ME172V” and reportedly built by ASUS has popped up with specs well below those of the Nexus 7. According to the GLBenchmark, the entry-level Nexus 7 could have a 7-inch display with a 1024 x 600 pixel resolution display, 1GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage, a 4270mAh battery and Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean. Interestingly enough, the purported low-end Nexus 7 also has a micro SD card slot, which the original Nexus 7 does not. It’s possible that the entry-level tablet could be an entirely new Nexus product, or even not a Nexus-branded tablet at all. In September, ASUS denied it was working on an entry-level Nexus 7 for Google.
Microsoft (MSFT) may have sold an impressive 40 million Windows 8 licenses so far, but that doesn’t mean OEMs are seeing the same strong demand for new computers and tablets. The Wall Street Journal reports that Asus CFO David Chang is less than pleased with how Windows 8 devices have sold so far and says that overall “demand for Windows 8 is not that good right now.” This doesn’t mean that Windows 8 is doomed, however: Daiwa analyst Christine Wang tells the Journal that she expected early demand for Windows 8 to be sluggish since early component costs have resulted in higher-than-optimal prices. Once OEMs get these costs under control in 2013, she says, demand for Windows 8 machines should ramp up.
Google (GOOG) announced last month that it was discontinuing the 8GB model of its popular Nexus 7 tablet and reducing the price of the 16GB model by $50 to make room for a larger 32GB model. The Internet giant’s announcement didn’t sit well with early adopters who essentially felt duped. ASUS (2357), the tablet’s manufacturer, has now stepped in to make things right, at least for European buyers. For those who bought a Nexus 7 directly from ASUS or Google before the October 29th price drop, the Taiwanese manufacturer is offering customers a €25 voucher after they give a proof of purchase. The offer is available for all of Europe and runs through November 30th, while the voucher, according to The Verge, is valid through December 31st.
ASUS (2357) made its Padfone 2 official on Tuesday. As the leaks suggested, the Padfone 2 is an all-around spec boost that includes a 4.7-inch Super IPS+ display (1280 x 720 resolution), quad-core Snapdragon S4 processor, 2GB of RAM, up to 64GB of internal storage, 13-megapixel rear camera with f/2.4 aperture capable of 100 continuous full-resolution shots at six frames per second, 1.2-megapixel front camera, NFC, LTE connectivity and a 2140mAh battery. On the software side, the Padfone 2 feels a bit outdated running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, but ASUS says it’ll be updated to Jelly Bean very soon.
ASUS (2353) isn’t giving up on the smartphone/tablet hybrid dream just yet. Ahead of its official October 16th announcement in Italy and Taiwan, the reliable Evleaks has dumped several images of ASUS’s Padfone 2 on its Twitter account. From the looks of it, the Padfone 2’s tablet portion exchanges previous models’ rear door flap for a easy slide-in dock mechanism. The tablet dock also sports a tapered wedge design. Rumored specs for the Padfone 2 smartphone include a 4.7-inch display (1280x 720), 1.5GHz quad-core processor, 13-megapixel camera with LED flash, 2GB of RAM, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and LTE connectivity. Evleaks’ Padfone 2 images follow below. More →