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Acer Group, one of the largest PC suppliers in the world and the No. 1 maker of netbooks, said that even though sales of netbooks collapsed in the first quarter, the category has not died and will continue to co-exist with notebooks. Specifically, the company noted that netbooks are much more affordable than notebooks as well as tablets.

“The death of netbooks is overstated. We may not see the same explosive growth [in the category] as before, but the netbook price point is still killer," said, Lisa Emard, a spokeswoman for Acer, in an interview with Forbes.

For several years Acer pinned a lot of hopes onto its Aspire One lineup of netbooks, which helped it to become the world's second largest PC supplier in early 2010. But in the recent quarters it turned out that the end-users became less satisfied with performance of netbooks and many preferred  to acquire tablets instead for consumption of content.

According to Microsoft, sales of netbooks in Q1 2011 dropped by 40%, which is massively below slowdown of the PC market (-5.4%). Sales of Acer Group (which controls 11.2% of the world's PC market) dropped by whopping 15.8% because of continued turbulence in EMEA and inability to offer competitive solutions that would replace netbooks. The company even fired chief exec last quarter due to the lack of proper tablet strategy.

But Acer still believes in netbooks, albeit, they will hardly be a key strategy for further growth, it seems. Proper thin-and-light notebooks are still pretty expensive, and the price-gap between them and netbooks will not erode anytime soon. Therefore, for those, who just need a small inexpensive PC with hardware keyboard, netbooks will remain what the doctor ordered.

“Tablets have impacted overall netbook sales, but we’re not stepping away from the [netbook] segment. We think there’s still opportunity for sales, including in the U.S.," said Eric Ackerson, an Acer senior product marketing and brand manager.

Tags: Acer, Intel, Aspire, Eee

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