Asus has been enjoying some success with its line of low-cost, 7-inch Google tablets, and now expects that Windows 8 tablets in the same price range could do well too.
Asus chief Jerry Shen told the Wall Street Journal on Monday he was "very optimistic about sales for Windows 8 tablets this year" particularly as prices fall below $300. It's a shift that comes after Microsoft made changes to its certification requirements, confirming that smaller, cheaper Windows 8 tablets from its OEM partners would be available in coming months. Asus looks likely to add its own offerings to that category: according to the paper, Asus is planning on making a Windows 8 tablet that's smaller and cheaper than slates running the OS traditionally have been.
However, it's not clear whether the cut-down slate will indeed be Windows 8 or Windows RT. Unlike rival Acer, which only makes the Windows 8 Iconia touch device, Asus has made both Windows 8 and Windows RT flavoured tablets. The $300 price tag would be considerably lower than its VivoTabRT 32GB model, which retails for $550 at Best Buy.
Asus also makes Google's popular $270 Nexus 7, which helped Asus replace Amazon as the world's third largest tablet maker by shipments, according to IDC.
Asus announced (PDF) in its first quarter results yesterday that it had shipped three million tablets without breaking out numbers by OS. IDC estimated that Asus tablet shipments of 2.7 million units in first quarter, behind Samsung's 8.8 million and Apple's 19.5 million.
Since the launch of Windows 8 in the last quarter of 2012, tablets running the Microsoft's new OS have attracted a small share of the tablet market. However, a smaller form factor and lower prices could help bolster its showing, and Microsoft itself is expected to bring out a 7-inch Surface before too long.
The 1.6 million Windows 8 tablets shipped account for 3.3 percent of the 49 million tablets last quarter while 900,000 Windows RT tablets account for 0.4 percent.