Asus to launch Chromebook in second half of 2013

Chromebooks are selling well in the education and government sectors, according to Asus

Taiwanese PC maker Asus plans on getting behind Google's Chrome OS and will launch a notebook running the OS in the second half of this year, said company CEO Jerry Shen.

The Google-developed OS is still in its early stages, but "market momentum" could develop for the OS in 2014, Shen said in a Monday earnings call. Other PC makers, including Samsung, Acer and Hewlett-Packard, have already launched so-called "Chromebooks" with prices between US$199 and $449.

"Chromebook is good, not on the consumer side, but it's good in the education and government side, and some for the commercial side," Shen said.

Asus is preparing the product in the wake of a notable decline in shipments for Windows PCs, which dropped by 13.9 percent year-over-year in the first quarter, according to research firm IDC. Microsoft's new Windows 8 OS has yet to jump-start PC sales, while demand for tablets and smartphones continues to rise.

Despite the struggling PC market, net profit for Asus was up 21 percent year-over-year in the first quarter, reaching NT$6.1 billion (US$205 million). Revenue during the same period also grew by 16 percent, and hit NT$105.2 billion.

Helping to fuel its revenue growth has been the company's success in selling Android tablets. In the first quarter, Asus shipped 3 million Android tablets, up from a mere 600,000 tablets in the same period a year ago. The company's best known tablet is possibly the Nexus 7, a product it partnered with Google to build, and starts at the low price of US$199.

Outside Android tablets, Shen said the company is seeing some potential with touch-based notebooks built with Windows 8, and expects them to grow in popularity in the coming quarters. In this year's first quarter, about 21 percent of all its Windows devices shipped were touch-based notebooks or tablets.

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