Asus is to phase out its seven-inch-screen Eee PC netbooks in mature markets, company chairman Jonney Shih said on Tuesday.
During a press conference at the CeBIT technology show, 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 seven-inch Eee PCs — the original size for the line — from its catalogue.
"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 seven-inch [netbook] is going to be phased out, although some emerging countries may still have some demand."
Asus has previously had to deny rumours that it would remove all its sub-10-inch netbooks from its range. In November, it said both its 8.9-inch and seven-inch netbooks would survive with refreshed specifications.
At CeBIT, which is taking place in Hanover, Germany, 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 product 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."
Asus chairman Jonney Shih at the CeBIT technology show in Hanover, Germany on 3 March, 2009.