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Whither EeePC? January 4, 2008

Posted by reverseengineer in Asus, Ramblings.

My wife hosted the formal launching of the EeePC a couple of months ago at a ballroom of one of the big hotels here. Before she got her scripts, she had no idea of what product she was launching. She’s not a geek like me at all, and she really couldn’t care less.

It’s just a new laptop, she said. From Asus.

OMG. It’s not the EeePC, is it?

I tried to explain to her why it was an important launch, that it was a big thing in the community, blah blah blah, and in the end she said, yeah, whatever.

I couldn’t go to the event myself, and when she came home after hosting the event, I asked her how it was. Oh, nice. Went well. Lotsa people, lotsa food, she said. I meant the laptop. Oh. Ok, she said. But it was small, like a toy, and was meant for kids.


Apparently aside from the size, the Easy Mode interface made it look to her like one of those V-Tech faux laptops kids are crazy about. After a while I gave up explaining why it wasn’t anything like those.

Actually, if you think about it, she was partially right. As a quiet and low profile exponent of the OLPC (one laptop per child) movement, the creation of the EeePC was meant for kids and teenagers on a budget. (Not for aging techies like me.) The stupid name is a concession to that ā€“ Easy to learn, Easy to play, Easy to work. EeePC. Eeek.

At the launching, it was packaged as something that kids could easily use, complete with a cute little dramatization of that fact on stage. Asus’s own worldwide campaign used lots of children and young people. There are lots of publicity photos of kids carrying white EeePCs color coordinated with their attire.

But unlike the real OLPC which really looks like a toy with its garish colors and design, the EeePC looks like a Thinkpad left out in the rain to shrink. Which makes it attractive to any self-respecting geek.

I think Asus hedged its bets and deliberately designed something that could go either way ā€“ OLPC or UMPC. It looks like it’s taken the latter route, and is on the verge of dropping the pretense altogeher.

Even the new models coming out seem hardly kid-friendly; the updates coming out at the WIMAX event and CES in the coming weeks will bear this out, I think. All the hullabaloo in the grownup IT community about the EeePC has drowned out any noise about the kiddy OLPC part.

My wife, who’s in the market for an update for her aging iBook, is saving up for a Macbook, and I keep trying to convince her to just get an EeePC. For the budget, she could get three of these things. But first impressions last, and it will forever be a toy to her.

Until I said, you do know it comes in pink, right?

That got her thinking.




1. bernie - January 4, 2008

I was at that launch (as if you don’t know) and frankly, I was disappointed at the way the local Asus PR machinery has been marketing this little wonder. They even had some made-up kids and model-type models modelling the Eee! (que horror!)

Anyway, when I inquired about the Eee from someone I know from Asus Philippines, one of the answers I got was “why be interested in a kid’s toy?”

But that didn’t deter me from getting one later…

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