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Asus Android smartbooks on ice

Posted at 25 August 2009 23:05 CET by Jared Newman

Despite wowing onlookers with a prototype Android smartbook at a trade show in June, Asus says it’s not moving forward on the concept in the near future.

Smartbooks are similar to netbooks in size, but they run on mobile phone processors and components, reducing their cost and boosting battery life. Asus displayed one of these computers, dubbed the Eee PC “Snapdragon” and running on Google’s Android mobile operating system, at Computex in June.

asus-android

Now, Asustek Computer chief executive Jerry Shen says he doesn’t see a clear market for smartbooks, and so they’re sitting on the back-burner. As PC World points out, Asus’ backing would lend street cred to the new line of computers. After all, Asus was one of netbooks’ pioneers, and those mini-computers have since swept the computer market, becoming an obligatory offering from nearly every manufacturer.

The word from Shen and Asus echoes news from last month, when it was reported that Asus and rival company Acer are both putting new netbook plans on hold. Additionally, DigiTimes reported that Acer’s own Android netbook would be delayed (Acer has since denied this).

You could chalk all this up to a general reluctance to test new products in a down economy, but I wonder if interest in cheap, tiny PCs is generally waning. I’ve always felt that netbooks were successful first and foremost because of their price, not their size. Now that Asus and Acer are moving into similarly inexpensive, but more powerful ultrathin PCs, there’s little reason to revert back to tiny, crippled PCs.

Besides, I don’t think we need cheaper Android-based notebooks with smartphone chips. We need powerful Android-based smartphones that act more like a computer.

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