Netbooks are still big business for Asustek. So much so that the hotness from 2009 outsold Asus tablets in 2011. Per numbers released at the company’s global sales meeting (and relayed by Digitimes), Asustek expects to ship 4.8 netbooks by the end of 2011 but only 1.8 million tablets. But that’s expected to change in 2012. The roles will be reversed and Asus sees big things for next year.
Once upon a time, the Eee PC was the netbook to own. It was loved by moms and modders alike. It was (and still is) cheap, well-equipped, and widely available at a number of retailers. In 2010 the Eee PC owned 20% of the netbook market and it’s estimated that Asus shipped 6-8 million units that year alone. But netbooks were always a stopgap product of sorts and never expected to be with us forever. With shipments predictable down in 2011, the company is likely looking to tablets to pick up the slack.
Asus offered basically one tablet model in 2011: the hot Eee Pad Transformer. This tablet was announced at CES 2011 where it instantly won over geeks with impressive specs but an even more tasty $399 MSRP. Even though it didn’t hit the retail market until May, it apparently sold pretty well for an Android device. It must have made up the bulk of Asus’ tablet sales. Besides the Transformer, there’s the Eee Pad Slider and the brand new Transformer Prime. But those three tablets stood tall against the company’s established but shrinking Eee PC product line.
Asus is predicting a total shipment amount of 1.8 million tablets this year. That number is expected to rise to 3 million next year, picking up the slack of the dying netbook, but also, per Asus, surpassing Samsung’s tablets. Yep, Asus expects to beat the Samsung Galaxy Tab army. That would be, in case you can’t keep up, the Samsung Galaxy Note, the GalTab 7.0, the 7.7, the 8.9, the 10.1 and all the different variations between them — those are just the models announced this year. If Asus follows its own recent path, it expects to best Samsung with a much more simple offering.
Netbooks shot Asus into the primetime and established the company as a consumer brand. But netbooks are quickly getting killed off by tablets. If Asus stays its course and things go as they hope, the journey between netbooks and tablets should be relatively painless.