When Intel launched its Atom chip last year, a lot of PC vendors declined to break into the new sub-notebook (or netbook) product segment that it made possible. The two PC companies that took the gamble – Acer and Asus – have reaped the rewards of massive overall market share gains in the last few months. 

In the face of such a successful product niche, it's hard to realise that Intel battled to get any take-up on the new chip at all – until Acer agreed to underwrite the bulk of its initial manufacturing run.
"Acer saw the opportunity," says Krishna Murthy, deputy-MD of Acer Middle East, Turkey & Africa (META). "The netbook is the first time that size and price have come together so well.
"Traditionally, the smaller the notebook, the higher the price would be. But, with the new processor, we have been able to cut the costs considerably."
And, although, many PC vendors failed initially to see the attraction on the netbook, users fell for it in a big way.
"It's the kind of product that people see and they want it. Often people know they want something but don't know exactly what – but when they see the netbook, they know they want it."
Last quarter Acer shot to the top of the charts based on its netbook sales, overtaking the traditional leader HP for the first time in EMEA to take the top spot in the region.
And it wasn't just a flash in the pan, says Acer META MD Emanuale Accolla – sales through October have been what he describes as "phenomenal".
By the end of the year, Accolla believes Acer will have shipped 8-million netbooks around the world, with 3-million of them in EMEA alone.
"The market has responded quite well to this product," he says. "Some of our competitors didn't believe it would be successful, but we took the risk and played an innovative role."
The company's success with the new netbook sector will have far-reaching implications, says Accolla, and Acer is facing the slowdown in the world's economy with less trepidation than many other computer vendors.
"Some of the vendors have lost considerable momentum and may find themselves in difficulty soon," he warns.
However, in a slowing market he believes that notebooks, and especially the inexpensive netbooks, will find a ready market.
"We believe the momentum will be there. We don't have any fear for the global financial health of this business."