Asus Eee PC gives Sony the willies
If Elfin laptop pulls in punters, it'll pull down prices
It's official: Sony fears the Asus Eee PC. It worries the elfin notebook's low price, low spec approach could cut the bottom out of the laptop business.
"If [Asus' Eee PC] starts to do well, we are all in trouble," Mike Abary, a senior VP with Sony US' IT products operation, told Cnet.
"That's just a race to the bottom... if mainstream buyers buy it then whoa..."
Abary's fear is clear: let punters know they can do what that want to do computationally on a small, very cheap machine, they won't want to pay out for expensive upgrades sporting the latest processor, graphics and screen technology.
Asus Eee PC and friend: putting the willies up Sony
The PC industry as a whole - let alone Sony - has long depended on punters' desire for more performance from their computers as a driver for regular sales. Ever more bloated apps and operating systems have helped, as they've exposed the limitations of older systems.
Market watchers have long wondered when the point will come when punters decide their current machine is powerful enough for the tasks they want to perform, and the regular upgrade cycle comes to an end. As sales of computers to consumers have grown and grown, this point has become more important.
Still, why blame Asus? It's largely responding to demand, and consumer laptop prices have been tumbling anyway. In the US, Sony offers notebooks priced under $800 - over here you can now get half-decent ones for the sterling equivalent, £400.
The Eee comes in at around £220, so there's still some space for low-end laptops to fall into before they start matching Asus' pricing. If the Eee encourages better prices for consumers, then that's no bad thing. Companies like Sony will just have to work harder to win their favour.
I own many Sony branded items: a PS2, a PSP, a Walkman MP3 player. When I entered the laptop market, I looked first at Sony, as I wanted an ultraportable. Then, after reading review after review, I settled on the Eee. Bought mine from Newegg.com, just got it yesterday.
Based on the quality of this machine, Sony's fears are justified.
RE: I'd never noticed...
I noticed there was some fakeness going on the first time I looked at it. I thought it was just the camera at first, but the more I look at it, the more the actual eee seems to have been 'plopped' into the scene too.
Flying off the shelves...
I've read somewhere (I believe it was not here on The Reg) someone saying that this shortage of Eees is partly the STORE's fault. I don't know if the guy was telling the truth, but here it goes: he says he went to some store (sorry, don't remember) and asked a salesman for the Eee. The salesman said they were out of stock, but they had this other one, just a bit more expensive, etc. The buyer insisted and asked the sales guy to please check the inventory in the computer there just in case, since her really wanted the Eee. The buyer then looked on the screen as the search was going, and made a point of letting the sales guy know he was looking too. The buyer says there were actually about 40 Eees in stock. So he went home as a happy new Eee-owner...
I wonder if this is true, and could some enterprising tech news outlet investigate? (nudge nudge wink wink) The story sure makes some sense; I would think the stores would prefer selling the bigger profit margin (?) $1500 kit they have accumulating dust, instead of letting people discover the much cheaper ones fulfill their basic needs...