Asus has set a target for Eee PC shipments this year of 5 million, which would be a million shy of the lead if Acer meets its target.
The defeat may not be easy for Asus to accept since the company has largely been responsible for popularising the netbook idea commercially with the Eee PC.
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Netbooks are mini-laptops designed for mobility, typically sporting 7in to 10in screens and weighing less than 2kg. Most netbook components, including the microprocessor, are less powerful than those of full-fledged laptops so batteries last longer. Netbooks aer designed for dealing with email, browsing the Internet and working on word processor or spreadsheet documents, not for heavy duty gaming, video editing or other multimedia work.
On Thursday, Asus forecast fourth-quarter shipments of the Eee PC at between 1.6 million and 1.8 million units, compared to 1.7 million units in the third quarter. Acer, by comparison, said its Aspire one shipments reached 2.4 million units in the third quarter and it expects fourth quarter shipments to exceed that amount.
"The netbook segment is growing very nicely," said Acer CEO Gianfranco Lanci during the company's third quarter investors' conference in Taipei on Friday.
Next year, Acer will ship 12 million to 15 million Aspire ones, he said. Asustek declined to comment on 2009 Eee PC shipments.