Japan’s Sony Corp. plans to launch the world’s lightest 8-inch notebook PC, taking aim squarely at a rapidly growing market for ultra-portable personal computers.
The new 1.4-pound Sony Vaio PC will come with Microsoft’s Windows Vista operating system, supporting all the software programs found in full-sized notebooks. It will sell for about $900, setting itself apart from netbooks.
Netbooks, pioneered by Taiwan’s Asustek in 2007 and one of the rare bright spots in the electronics industry in recent months, are generally described as low cost, mini-laptops optimized for Internet use, and sell typically for $300 to $400.
Sony (NYSE: SNE) said on Wednesday the new notebook, which is as thin as a mobile phone, will be available for pre-orders on Thursday and be sold at major retailers in the United States beginning February.
But Sony isn’t the only one hopping onto the tiny notebook trend this week. Freescale Semiconductor has similar aspirations of cashing in with its i.MX515 processor, aimed at the netbook category.
The buzz around diminutive notebooks isn’t surprising, given their brisk sales. Acer, which got into the netbook market last year, is closing in on HP and Dell in global PC shipments, thanks to its success in selling the devices.
During third quarter, HP’s market share clocked in at 18.4 percent, barely changed from a year ago. Dell was in second place with a share of 13.6 percent, down 0.5 percent from last year, while Acer’s piece of the market jumped to 12.5 percent from 9.7 percent.
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