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All-in-one personal computers have been around for many years; however, they have never become popular partly due to high price tag, partly due to limited capabilities. According to Gartner market research firm, recently unveiled all-in-one Eee PC system from Asustek Computer has all chances to popularize such computers among consumers looking for affordable yet compact systems.

Gartner believes that touch-screen all-in-one systems will satisfy users who value the space-saving benefits and the user-friendly interface at home and work. Although companies like Apple, Dell, Gateway, HP and IBM/Lenovo have unveiled their all-in-one systems years ago, this segment has had limited growth because of the high price band range. Asus is tapping the segment from a lower price band with a rather basic hardware specification – Intel Atom processor for ultra low-cost personal computers along with chipset that features integrated graphics core. The all-in-one Eee PC system will not attract performance-driven consumers looking for upgrades or replacements, but it may succeed in the limited market of those seeking additional PCs, claims market research firm.

Asus Eee all-in-one desktop (model ETP1602-WT-X0010) is based on Intel Atom processor N270 (1.60GHz) and Intel 945 GSE core-logic with built-in graphics core. The novelty sports 1GB of DDR2 memory, 160GB hard disk drive, Gigabit Ethernet controller, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n controller, built-in audio, 1.3MP webcam and so on. The system is equipped with 15.6” touch-sensitive screen with 16:10 aspect ratio. Even though the Asus Eee all-in-one desktop has touch-sensitive screen, it still comes bundled with keyboard and mouse. The UK-based Play online store started to offer its customers to pre-order the Asus Eee all-in-one desktop (model ETP1602-WT-X0010) in mid-October for £399 ($634, €500). The store promises to start deliveries on the 20th November, 2008.

The PC market is becoming more fragmented in terms of users’ needs and product offerings, Gartner claims. Unlike most PC vendors, which are pursuing high capability by adding features and functions, Asus is returning to the basic system segmentation by providing products that meet the “just enough” needs of target customers. Moreover, the analysts believed that the company appears to be content to have limited sales prospects along these niche lines, with better profit than for mainstream PCs. Given that the current worldwide market for all-in-ones was approximately $3.6 million in 2007, it is likely that even a small portion of the total is attractive to Asustek, and the company may be able to expand the entire segment.

By targeting a niche segment of a shrinking desktop market, Asus demonstrates a willingness to innovate quickly and enter new product categories faster than many U.S. or European vendors, which so far have been reluctant to offer truly low-cost desktop solutions.

Although Gartner is optimistic about market prospects of Asus all-in-one Eee PC, it recommends other companies to wait and see whether there is demand towards such systems is really picking up. The firm also advises PC vendors to offer all-in-one systems either with larger screens and more thought-through functionality, or try to build a lower-cost machine instead.

Tags: ASUS, Eee

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