Acer beat Asus in netbooks last year, to ship 12M this year

Acer shipped just over 5 million netbooks last year

Acer edged out rival Asustek Computer to lead the world in netbook shipments last year.

The world's third largest computer vendor shipped just over 5 million netbooks last year, said Gianfranco Lanci, Acer's president and CEO, during the company's first-quarter investors' conference in Taipei.

The company expects to ship between 10 million and 12 million netbooks this year, he added.

Asustek, which pioneered netbooks with its popular Eee PCs, has said it shipped 4.9 million units last year.

Acer managed to win the 2008 netbook title despite Asustek's six month lead in the market. Acer didn't start shipping its first netbook, the Aspire One, until the second half of last year. The device was a hit, and sales soared mainly because Acer was able to launch globally, analysts say.

The victory for Acer, however, was incomplete. The company missed its own target of shipping 6 million netbooks last year because the global economy soured.

Lanci said sales of the Aspire One were strongest in the U.S. last year, despite a brighter start in Europe. Netbook sales have been less successful in other regions, such as Asia.

Netbooks were a big help to Acer during the first quarter of this year.

Instead of dragging on the company by hurting laptop PC sales, Acer chairman J.T. Wang said that without the Aspire One, Acer's revenue and shipments would have been much lower.

Consumers were spooked by the financial crisis, he said, causing them to look for deals such as netbooks instead of more expensive products.

Netbooks are mini-laptop PCs designed for mobility, typically sporting 7-inch to 10-inch screens, weighing less than 2 kilograms and costing under US$400. They are designed with less powerful components and chips than full-fledged laptops and do not carry DVD drives.

Market researcher Gartner estimates that mini-notebook shipments will increase to 20.2 million units this year, up from 11.7 million units last year.

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