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Asus CEO blasts ARM netbooks

Lacks clear USP, apparently

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Asus’ CEO has turned on ARM-based netbook PCs, hinting that the segment lacks a unique selling point.

During a recent investor conference in Taipei, Jerry Shen reportedly said: “Currently, I still don’t see a clear market for smartbooks.”

'Smartbook' is the term coined by chip maker Qualcomm to imply there's some substantial difference between netbooks based on its ARM chippery and those equipped with processors from other vendors. There isn't of course, as is usually the case with marketing-driven terminology.

The word has also been used to discuss devices with on-board mobile phone connectivity, but a fair few netbooks - including Nokia's Wintel-based Booklet 3G - do that too, so it's no distinction.

It's unclear whether Shen has a downer on ARM, on Google's Android - the OS most often associated with ARM-based netbooks - or devices with always-on HSDPA 3G connections.

We presume it's ARM and certainly there's the fact that Windows doesn't run on that processor architecture. But Asus offers Linux-based netbooks. And what, fundamentally, is the difference between an Atom-plus-Linux netbook and one with ARM and Linux? Not a great deal, really. Not enough, certainly, to warrant treating ARM-based netbooks as a separate category. ®

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