Over at Engadget, they have a tantalisingly unsourced photograph of the Eee roadmap. This "Heart touching. Rock solid" pyramid diagram reveals somewhere over 20 models, peaking in the sort of spec that puts them in Vaio territory - 16:9 LED backlit screen, 120GB HD, dual-core Atoms, all that good stuff. Due in a couple of months, too, so we'd best get our screwdrivers out.
As an exercise in pushing a new brand as fast and far as it will go before it implodes, this is quite something. But it's not as much fun as the innermost thoughts of Asus' marketing department, revealed on that slide alongside the model names. For, nicely aligned with the hierarchy of laptops, is a list of target markets.
At the bottom, who are the proposed consumers of the old-style Eee? "Travelers". Hm. Without wading too far into the deep and muddy mine-strewn eggshell-floored waters of being a middle class bloke talking about the disenfranchised, I fear this may lead to regrettably bad-taste YouTube. (Tut, tut. Please bring any such disgraces to my attention the moment you find them, so I may disapprove at length.)
Above them but in the same niche, are "Kids" and "Student". The key attributes here are Young, Vivid, Eye-Catching; well, I've certainly met travellers who qualify in all three. I'd probably pick other words to describe students and kids, though – let us hope that this tranche of designs comes with wipe-clean keyboards and copious storage for the naughty data.
Then we come to Asus' middle classes, described as "Precise. Mature. Fancy Touch". The epitome of precise, mature, fancy-touch types are "Insurance Sales"; the lowest of that class are "Home Agent". And in the middle? "Editor. Journalist." People, the truth hurts. It really does. But fear my fancy touch – I'll be practicing, to the very limits of HR violation policy.
The very peak of Asus' aspirational pyramid is occupied by "Elite. Travel explorer. Free writer", who are "Exquisite, Extreme slim and light". While this is a niche beyond my aspirations, I'm a bit bothered by the "Free writer" tag. "No man but a blockhead ever wrote, but for money" said Johnson, who was clearly not one of nature's bloggers (he left that to Boswell), but it's an odd marketing strategy to pick on the unemployed for both the bottom and the top of your range of high-tech goodies.
Yet it matches the UK class system to a fault – from the aristos lounging around in their butler-skin loafers to the Dickensian underclass not giving a tinker's cuss what anyone thinks, it's only the bunch in the middle who care enough to write about it, and imagine there's some sort of career to be had. Asus should relocate to the Home Counties immediately and hire Professor Higgins as a voice coach. Chaps, your spiritual home awaits.