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Asus to nix 7-inch Eee PC Netbooks

At CeBit, Chairman Jonney Shih tells ZDNet UK that Asus will concentrate on its 10-inch Netbooks, with the original 7-inch size fading away.

Eee PCs at CeBit
Eee PCs on display at the 2009 edition of CeBit. For more Eee PC photos, click on the image. (Note: The captions are in German.) ZDNet Germany

HANNOVER, Germany--Asus is to phase out its 7-inch-screen Eee PC Netbooks in mature markets, company chairman Jonney Shih said on Tuesday.

During a press conference at the CeBit technology show here, Shih told ZDNet UK that the manufacturer would concentrate on its 10-inch Netbooks, which he said customers preferred. He denied recent reports that Asus would phase out its 8.9-inch Netbooks. However, he did say that it would cut 7-inch Eee PCs--the original size for the line--from its catalog.

Asus Chairman Jonney Shih at CeBit.
Asus Chairman Jonney Shih at CeBit. ZDNet UK

"It seems that customers prefer to have a greater screen, which also means a larger keyboard," Shih said. "I still believe we have a good opportunity in 8.9-inch for kids, telecoms (providers) or emerging markets. The 7-inch (Netbook) is going to be phased out, although some emerging countries may still have some demand."

Asus has previously had to deny rumors that it would remove all its sub-10-inch Netbooks from its range. In November, it said both its 8.9-inch and 7-inch Netbooks would survive with refreshed specifications.

At CeBit, the annual spring tech show, Asus showed off a variety of new and recently announced products. It offered up an Eee videophone, an Eee NAS PC, and several new notebooks, including the Eee PC "Seashell" 1008HA, which is a one-inch-thick, 10-inch-screen version of the Eee Netbook design.

The company also slightly rebranded itself and its products at the show, changing its motto from "Rock Solid. Heart Touching" to "Inspiring Innovation. Persistent Perfection." The Eee brand itself, which originally stood for "Easy to learn, easy to work, easy to play," now stands for "Easy, excellent, exciting."

Asked whether Asus was at risk of diluting the Eee brand, which started life with what was effectively the first mass-market Netbook, Shih said Asus did not want to "treat (the brand) like a low-cost notebook concept."

"The PC has to proliferate into (other) digital appliances," Shih told ZDNet UK. "It will enable far more people to enjoy the digital life. Eee is a sub-brand to enhance the Asus brand, but also with a little bit of differentiation."

David Meyer of ZDNet UK reported from Hannover, Germany.