ASUS CEO Reveals Eee PC Sales Numbers, Plans for Touch Eee PCs and More Eee Family Products

ASUS CEO Jerry Shen (Image: apcmag.com)

Earlier this week the ASUS Eee PC celebrated its first birthday (with a full birthday party and cake at LAPTOP Magazine). It was one year ago that the Taiwanese company began selling its first sub-notebook (which would form a new category known as netbooks). The little Eee PC 701 not only would spur on a whole Eee brand for the company and line of different sized Eee PCs, but it would push the competing notebook manufacturers into the netbook market as well. As the Eee PC, and arguably the first consumer netbook, turns one we checked in with ASUS CEO Jerry Shen who has spearheaded the company’s Eee brand and its push into the netbook market. A year later, Shen isn’t fearful of the onslaught of netbooks hitting the market from the likes of Samsung, Lenovo and Dell and only thinks the market is just starting to take off. Why? Well he shared the following in the hour long interview:
  • Four million Eee PCs have been sold to date. He plans to reach the goal of 5 million Eee PC sales by the end of 2008.
  • Touch-enabled Eee PCs are on the way and will be here by early 2009. Shen didn’t share the details of the form factor, though he said they are exploring a convertible mode and a regular laptop form for touch-enabled Eee PCs. They will also run Windows 7 as early as mid-2009.
  • Several skus of the Eee PC give customers numerous choices and allow them to find the Eee PC that best fits their needs.
  • The Eee Family continues to grow with the EeeTop this month (that has an Easy Mode for Windows XP) and more products that will be announced at CES in January 2009.

That is just a bit of what Shen shared with us. See the full interview below and why we think the Eee PC’s second birthday may be more exciting than its first. Did you anticipate that the Eee PC would spur such a large category and that it would get the worldwide reaction it did? When we launched the product last October, we saw immediately how popular it was and how well it sold. At the end of that year, I set a goal to sell 5 million by the end of 2008. So, for that first year, it went well beyond our expectations, but I hoped that this year would be very successful and we are on the right track. We knew that we would see competitors in the market and like Intel, we see this netbook market to be one of the largest areas of mobility in the future. You mentioned being on the right track for your goal for 2008. How many have Eee PCs have you sold to date this year? Being that our goal is for this year is 5 million, we are confident that we will hit that. We are pretty close to 4 million now. The competition has really been ok and hasn’t set us off our goals. Does that 5 million contain the other Eee Family products? Since the Eee PC has been so popular we have built out other Eee family members. The Eee Box was the first and at the end of the month we are releasing the EeeTop. We also have the EeeStick. And we will have another two other Eee products in January that we will announce. That 5 million only refers to Eee PC sales, and it doesn’t include the EeeBox. The goal for the EeeBox has only been a few couple hundred thousand. Speaking of the EeeStick, will that be available soon? And any idea of pricing? We will start to bundle with the EeeBox, EeeTop and the EeePCs soon. It will be available with some machines and we will put on some games on those for playing with the EeeStick. It can also be used for presentations. In some countries we will sell it separately, but it should be some place between $50 to $100. Is there a particular Eee PC model that has done better than others? For the first quarters of the year we only had the 7-inch and that did very very well. But in Q3 going forward the 9-inch and 10-inch are selling very well. The 900, 901 and the 1000 and 1000H are selling very well. I think the 9-inch and 10-inch and the 1024×600 resolution was a good solution. But still many of the customers want the 7-inch. Do you think the Eee PC can get any bigger? Will we see 11 or 12-inch Eee PCs later this year or in 2009? In my viewpoint, if we go to an 11-inch or 12-inch it will become a notebook. The real difference between the Eee PC and notebooks is the screen size. We use the screen size as the key differentiation between the Eee PC and the notebook. So I do not think we will release anything larger than 10-inches. How has the success of the Eee PC affected the rest of Asus’ notebook business? Do you feel as though it has cannibalized the sales of traditional notebooks if not for your brand but for others? At ASUS, when we define Eee PC, we define the Es as easy, exciting and excellent Internet experience. So no we haven’t seen the cannibalization. In fact, in many areas, it’s been the opposite. For example, in Japan originally our notebook business was very small, but after the Eee PC our notebooks have become very popular. The Eee PC has brought ASUS to people’s awareness and it has helped the notebook business. This has happened in many countries. Then what is the role of the ASUS N10  which you are not calling a netbook even though it is powered by an Intel Atom processor? What really makes this different from an Eee PC and what are you trying to accomplish with this separate N series brand? Originally we wanted to make a notebook with a 10-inch screen so we did that with this product. But in the future all the notebooks will start from 11-inches. So I don’t think we will do this in the future. In the future we will include the 10-inch in the Eee PC line. For us, the difference though between netbook and notebook, is that the netbook is used to consume content and have that connectivity experience. The notebook is for creating content and you have more storage and memory – its a machine that can do more. We have heard that return rates have been higher for Linux-based netbooks. Can you share information on sales of the Linux Eee PCs versus Windows XP versions? What about return rates overall for Eee PC netbooks? I think the return rate for the Eee PCs are low but I believe the Linux and Windows have similar return rates. We really separate the products into different user groups. A lot of users like the Windows XP, but in Europe a lot of people want the Linux option. Actually in Linux we support the Easy Mode and in Q4 of this year we are going to start selling Windows XP with an Easy Mode. What is the purpose of the Windows XP Easy Mode? The Easy Mode on Windows XP is very similar to the one on the Xandros operating system. For the novice and for the person who doesn’t know how to use the computer, Easy Mode is better. We provide this option on Windows XP if people want a simple interface, but they can also use the full operating system. Seems very cool. Seems like something that could help with Vista. Do you think its something you could put on Vista? I think we could, but we don’t plan on putting Vista on any of the Eee PCs. I think in the future in the second half of next year we will put Windows 7 on Eee PCs. For now it will be Linux and XP and then Windows 7 and not do Vista. Windows 7 is really being touted for its multi-touch capabilities. Can you share any plans for touch Eee PCs? Some of the models will have this function next year, but not all the models. The touch function has its advantage but also some disadvantages. The machine will have to be thicker if it has touch and we want to have slim machines still. Would you go with a tablet convertible form or build touch also into the normal laptop form? We are considering both. We are considering a tablet one and also a different alternative and form but we cannot talk about the details. We plan to talk about it in Q1 of next year. There are currently several Eee PC models for sale, whereas other vendors might have one or two SKUs. Do you believe that there are too many Eee PCs on the market? Is it confusing for customers? The Eee PC evolution from 7-inch to 9-inch to 10-inch all tried to help solve customer needs. We are still trying to accommodate customer needs. I think the user now has a lot of choices and it’s good. For instance, different 7-inch versions have been popular with telcos. The models all provide different flexibility for customers and end users. Newer premium models of the Eee PC have appeared, including the S101. What is the thinking in making a higher-fashion subnotebook? Do you think people will pay extra for the style? In our definition the Eee PC S101 is the highest end system in the Eee category. The S101 is a result of customer’s feedback – there is a group that wants a stylish machine but is also hooked on the easy Internet machine. We have responded to the customer’s wants and the S101 is the top one in the line up so we think people want this type of package and price. When will we see the next Eee PC? We will provide more exciting products next year and the price range will be from $250 to $700. We will announce a model in Q1 and in Q2 of 2009. They are exciting and in my definition they are cool and the industrial design is stylish. We work hard to incorporate five sense innovation. We also want to make sure the innovation has low temperatures and long battery life. We want the user to experience fast boot up times, quiet performance, a very long battery life and low temperatures. Is there a plan to use Atom’s dual core processor in those future Eee PCs? In many people’s point of view the current Atom is pretty good. In the future we think the netbook we will focus more on the core consumption. We will work on making battery life longer and more mobility but not in the computing. Actually we are working on technology called ExpressTest which improves boot up time and battery. All our Eee PCs will use this technology and the first to use it is the Eee PC S101. Are there batteries in the works to create longer battery life for Eee PCs? Atom has been pretty good for battery life and we have added our Super Hybrid Engine for added battery savings. We also have the 2600M and 2900M for higher density batteries. Wrapping up the year, since the Eee PC 701 ASUS has extended the Eee brand to other non-notebook products, such as the Eee Box and the Eee Monitor. Are there plans to build out the brand in the coming year? Is there an Eee phone in the works? For the phone, I  think we will still use the ASUS name but the Eee brand ideas will be part of that phone. We will bring more products in Q1 under the Eee family brand, but we can talk about this at CES. We will show off a lot of new products at the show for Q1 2009.

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  1. Jayayess1190 Says:

    I am excited about the future EEE’s. Can’t wait! :)

  2. Sascha Says:

    super article johanna

    absolutly!!!!

    one question? have you some time tonight =)

  3. Mike Cane Says:

    >>>We will bring more products in Q1 under the Eee family brand, but we can talk about this at CES. We will show off a lot of new products at the show for Q1 2009.

    Joanna will be very, very busy!!

  4. Nathan Says:

    Wow, i think the Eee’s are excellent. Windows 7 in 2009? wow that would great.

    http://windows-7-blog.blogspot.com

  5. Rhialto Says:

    It is interesting to hear that the Linux version is much in demand in Europe, but my question is then: Why is the 901-Linux version not for sale? Living in the Netherlands, there are no vendors that sell it here, I had to get one from a friend in England.

  6. rob enderle Says:

    I like the EEE but I have yet to see one in the major retailers in Canada where the Asus One is the overwhelming favorite and the HP Mininote is seem in some Best Buys.
    The EEE is strictly found in the mom and pop stores.

    Its nice to hear about Linux returns from the leader in the netbook field. MSI’s claim was well reported but since Asus and Acer are basically 3/4 of the netbook market, it means more when it comes from a leader in the field and not a single digit % owner of the market.

    The EEE has been a hit, all their motherboards now come with teh Splashtop Instant On embedded Linux, they are releasing new products like the Wiimote knockoff, that little paperback sized desktop, the imac competitor…. it seems like Asus had a great year and is not content to rest on tehir laurels.

    Now if they could only switch to a user friendly (and developer friendly) distro like Mandriva, we could call it a perfect year. Xandros is still one big stain.

  7. thom Says:

    rob: I’ve seen the Linux-based EeePCs for sale at Office Depot, which I would consider a major Canadian retailer.

  8. xutre Says:

    EeePC 901; it came with XP; real shame that there was no Nux version available, but sometimes that just comes down to complete ignorance by the retailer as to it’s availability (I asked), or the willingness of the retailer to censor an option that they do not personally perceive a consumer market for. After about a month of fiddling, firstly with pupeee, albeit with no wireless, ethernet, or bluetooth support (trying the Fedora9 live CD did get them running (and the compiz 3D desktop), but there was a problem with the screen resolution), this 901 now sports the latest Puppy 4.1 OS; everything works great, and the owner thinks that his sub-notebook is now worthy of the money he paid. On and off over the past month, he’s had it running the XP(Eee) that it came with, and more recently V(Eee)sta- now he’s finally happy; Puppy works faster (program response is vastly improved), looks better (application clarity, font definition and movie playback is superior to both XPeee and Veeesta) and we finally got the SCIM going properly (he prefers PinYing Chinese). Perhaps I can get him to send the XPeee CD back to M$ with a note enclosed “Returning your software as evidence that there is 1 less user. Reason?? It failed the Linux comparison test.”

  9. arshad kamal Says:

    please read mail below – their support dept has no idea : i called them and despite being UK support but based in NL could not confirm the contenst of the mails – i bought the laptop in US as a pressie within 3 months its screen went – a laptop should ahve global warranty given the portability – but no – then yes – then no – then yes..
    ffs
    Dear Arshad

    Your laptop does have 2 years global warranty.

    Regards,

    Asus

    From: Arshad.Kamal@marsh.com [mailto:Arshad.Kamal@marsh.com]
    Sent: 24 October 2008 11:29
    To: ASUSTeK (UK) Ltd.
    Subject: Fw: ACUK online enquiry [Pre-Sales] — arshad.kamal@marsh.com

    Dear Sir

    I have recd two mails with conflicting answers – in the mail below dated 24/10/2008 10:27 you are telling me it has a US warranty so has to be repaired locally

    then the mail sent 24/10/2008 10:28 tells me it has a global warranty ????

    Dear Sir,

    Yes this unit comes with a global warranty, therefore you will beable to get this unit repaired in Switzerland.

    Kind Regards
    ASUSTeK UK Ltd

    Please confirm

    This is ridiculous – does anyone there know what they are talking about???

    Arshad

    —– Forwarded by Arshad Kamal/LON/GB/Marsh/MMC on 24/10/2008 11:25 —–

    24/10/2008 10:27

    To
    Arshad Kamal/LON/GB/Marsh/MMC@MMC

    cc

    Subject
    RE: ACUK online enquiry [Pre-Sales] — arshad.kamal@marsh.com

    Dear Arshad

    That is correct you can only get the laptop repaired in the US.

    Regards,

    Asus

    From: Arshad.Kamal@marsh.com [mailto:Arshad.Kamal@marsh.com]
    Sent: 23 October 2008 17:53
    To: ASUSTeK (UK) Ltd.
    Subject: RE: ACUK online enquiry [Pre-Sales] — arshad.kamal@marsh.com

    Hi

    the serial number is 86OAAQ118505.

    I have the laptop already registered in the Asus Support pages and started there the warranty inquiry. The laptop is registered for Celine Olivier.

    However, the support I contacted told me that the PC has only local warranty.

    I can forward you the CC receipt and sales invoice from buy.com from the US

    So can I have this repaired in either Germany or Switzerland.

    Arshad

  10. Andre Says:

    Asus did the mistake to contract Xandros, he says Linux but it is precisely Xandros, not the best choice. The first thing you do as a Linux professional is to replace it by an LXDE based environment and a better distribution. Asus can make users invest in expensive hardware or use more efficient software which generates less trouble for consumers. Why do many European want Linux, not Windows?

    Well, an eeePC is a brand new and cool device to play and work with. You don’t want an 7 year old operating system everyone else uses and you don’t want Vista either. You want to run your essential application. You want to show it to your friends and it has to be a bit different. No one cares anymore what operating system your browser uses to access the cloud.

  11. A.Lizard Says:

    The eeePC 900/Linux is a great little piece of hardware. The software is a bad joke.

    Ubuntu-eee would probably be a far better choice for OEM installation than the brain-damaged appliance version of Xandros, I plan to upgrade to it shortly. Better-looking GUI, and there’s actually software available for it.

  12. Georges G. Says:

    French version :
    http://www.blogeee.net/2008/11/25/les-eeepc-linux-nont-pas-plus-de-sav-que-les-autres/

  13. C.P. Says:

    I dont understand what all the complaining is about on the OS. The fact is that there is always a better operting system because new versions are released every 6-12 months. The Eee PC is great with what it has. I am a full time professional and a part time student. I use my Eee PC 2G surf to do all my work and browse when ever i have time. i take it everywhere i go and sometimes have to check that it still in my bag because its so tiny. If at some point I feel like i need a new one, i will not spend on upgrades because that is pointless. i will just go buy another because they are so inexpensive. See it for what it is. A great and inexpensive way to stay connected and be able to do work at a coffee shop or in my case the local bar that offers WiFi. The Eee is GREAT, plain and simple. I get great comments on it all the time and everybody want to know where to buy one.

  14. buylaptop Says:

    I use ASUS A8 Series, and it’s good enough for me..and I planning to buy ASUS Eee PC series..
    Does its Better more then A8 Series ?

  15. Computer Rental Company Says:

    Truly, the computer era is evolving in a really fast pace. And the demands from the users are also building up. As a response to these demands, better specs are developed if not the best. And mobility poses a great factor in customer satisfaction. Many people opt for mobile computers for practicality. But the great challenge stays the same and that is to develop a a smaller laptop without sacrificing the performance or output of the computer. But as the laptop tends to be smaller it also tends to demand a higher price from consumers. That is why many rental companies are slowly growing to cater the needs of consumers who needs to use the most high tech computers without having to pay the full price.

  16. Dmitry Says:

    You people at the ASUS are doing a wonderful job, meeting all the expectations and winning all the challenges. BRAVO 2 all of you.

  17. Matt Says:

    They have a good product with a normal limit of flaws but the ASUS customer service model for the Eee PCs needs serious help for the 10% that have issues with their Eee PC. I would love it if someone could pass a message along to Jerry Shen or an appropriate VP. Have a look at these numbers (rma E-USA19A5063 & B2696 reference case number NE0064) and ask company if they understand service recovery because that is the key to customer loyalty… Contact me personally if you want more information. If it wasn’t for ASUS employee Mason W. I would still wondering what is going on.
    Matt

  18. Carol Taylor Says:

    Dear Jerry Shen:
    I wanted to write you a letter however your staff said I had to find it online, but could not.
    Last week I purchased an ASUS laptop and had a defect with the touch pad and was instructed to go to Best Buy where I purchased it.
    Yesterday, I bought your Err PC and after 2 hours and 50 minutes, speaking with a woman who was unable to help me download the trial sudent home Office 2007, I spoke with a Mabel, Supervisor, and then to a Sandy, Lead Supervisor I.d. 293, and her boss Janice, Manager was out of the office was so she transferred me to her voice mail and after a 10 minute hold time, was disconnected.
    Between last week with the large laptop and today with The Edd Pc I have over 63 hours invested, not counting the trip back to Best Buy where the problem was not resolved, because they were not familiar with that particular computer. Needless to say I am livid and would like to resole

  19. Maria Says:

    @Dimitry:

    I totally agree with you. After my experience ASUS making a great job in assemble high end mainboards, if they do so in producing high quality netbooks, will this be awesome.

    LG
    Maria

  20. David Stein Says:

    I hope Mr. Shen will read this because I have nowhere else to turn for assistance. I purchased the model cs5111 desktop computer and the experience has been the most exasperating of my life. Since the purchase last October, the computer has been back to Asus in Fremont CA three times for extended periods and the problems do not get resolved. It defies explanation and comprehension. Extended phone conversations and emails have failed to produce any results. Each time the unit goes back for the same service I am assured prior to shipment that it has been checked and double-checked thoroughly by customer service personnel and technicians as well. Each time it comes back to me with exactly the same problems unresolved. A young lady named Trinity Sparks in Fremont has tried to do her best and handled my unit personally to assure resolution of the problems. I think she is ready to kill some people in the service department over this incident. Please help. The CS5111 is potentially a great computer.

  21. Katherina Michniak Says:

    What did people do before the invention of video games?

  22. Michael Johnson Says:

    ^I Played on my bicycle with other kids in the neighborhood. We especially enjoyed Tag and red rover. I am more or less a hybrid though. I played games inside and played games outside so it was a great balance.

    My problem with the little mini lap tops is the fact that they will become like cell phones and people being able to carry these in your palm will be glued to them like they are smart phones. The Dell mini 10 was small enough of a product for me.

    And I have to agree with another poster above. Asus customer service anything is a few french fries short of a happy meal.

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