With the tablet market, led by Apple’s iPad line, having caused the netbook market to shrink to a mere blip, budget laptop maker Asus is said to have a new netbook coming down the pipeline, reports Digitimes.
The 10-inch Eee PC laptop will reportedly cost a relatively cheap $200 to $250, and run entirely on a Google operating system, either Android 3.0 Honeycomb or Chrome OS, according to “upstream component makers.” It is said to be set for a June launch in the US.
Asus reportedly has a goal to ship 6 million netbooks in 2011. But because of the growing popularity of tablets, which many believe serve a similar purpose to the low-powered netbooks, market analysts are conservative in their estimates about netbook sales.
If the rumored laptop does come in under $250, it would give Asus leverage in the market over tablet PCs, which cost between $300 and $500.
If successful, the device has the potential to get the stripped-down Chrome OS into the PC game. Google launched Chrome OS two years ago, but its partners, which includes Asus, HP, Lenovo and Toshiba, have yet to release a Chrome OS-based netbook.
As with most tablets, the Chrome OS, which relies on online-only data storage and requires relatively little computing power, is designed for peripheral devices, and is not meant to be used as an alternative to a fully-enabled computer.
The least expensive iPad 2 currently costs $500 (though the original iPad can be bough for much less), and the Android-based Motorola Xoom will sell for around $600. With a netbook that costs half to a third less on the market, it might be enough to get consumers get cash-tight consumers off the fence.