The Myer department store chain, which had an exclusive deal for the product launch, put its first shipment on sale in Sdney on Saturday and elsewhere on Sunday, and sold out immediately, although there may be a handful available in non-metropolitan stores. In the capitals, pre-orders also took care of the second shipment – due to arrive on Thursday.
Myer has stopped taking orders, and can’t say when it will be able to fill the demand. According to one mildly bewildered sales person, “We had a lot more interest than anybody anticipated.”
The sell-out – neither Asus nor Myer has as yet revealed the volumes involved - echoes the fever that surrounded the release of the Eee PC in the US, Europe and Asia a few months ago. At the Taipei launch, Asus predicted sales of 200,000 this quarter, and 3 million next year. That looks unnecessarily pessimistic. The .92kg Eee PC, with its 7-inch screen and remarkably usable keyboard has become America’s most-wanted Christmas present, according to Amazon.com and CNet, and has already attracted a zealous user community ... and a certain amount of misinformation.
Even journalists for mainstream publications fail to understand the phenomenon, and have upset Eee PC enthusiasts with a couple of inaccuracies. When one Fairfax blogger reported that Australia was getting only the low-end Surf model, without webcam and soldered RAM which is not upgradable, he was swiftly forced to post a correction, the ability to upgrade being one of the factors which has attracted hobbyists to the platform.
In fact Australians get the 701 4G, with 512Kb (make that 512MB) of RAM and 4GB SSD storage. Like the higher-end 701 8G (1GB of RAM and 8GB SSD), it has WiFi and Ethernet, three USB slots, high-definition audio, stereo mic and built-in webcam.
A review in the Sydney Morning Herald failed to observe that although the Eee PC ships with Linux (controversially , the Xandros distribution, jazzed up to look remarkably like the Windows XP Start screen), Asus says it is Windows XP compatible, and Microsoft has announced a 30 per cent discount for Linux switchers.
As it happens, users have already installed the Microsoft OS without much difficulty. For that matter, it's even been successfully fitted out with Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. CONTINUED
Australian retailers are wondering if they might have another Blackberry phenomenon on their hands, with the rapid sell-out of the first shipments of Asus’ diminutive $A499 Eee PC (pronounced simply “the E PC”).
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