ASUS' Jonney Shih: Android 4.0 hitting tablets by year's end, ultrathin netbook is coming

We just witnessed quite the interview between ASUS chairman Jonney Shih and Walt Mossberg at AsiaD, and outside of revealing the Transformer Prime (and affirming that the impending Padfone would ship with Android 4.0), he also dropped a few other nuggets worth mention to the audience here in Hong Kong. For starters, he finally caved to Walt's pestering about who his main competition was, specifically related to the new Zenbook. "The Mac[Book] Air," he stated, chuckling slyly afterwards, but quickly continuing on to plug his own machine based on its own merits. Not surprisingly, he also expressed his confidence that Android tablets still had a lot of life left in the market, and he stated that ASUS is still on track to move its target -- around two million -- Android tablets this year. Moving onto the topic of netbooks, Shih noted that rather than being buried, netbooks are simply "evolving." More importantly, however, was his subtle confirmation that a new ASUS netbook is en route: "You'll see on our new netbook, it'll be very thin." In fact, he even suggested that the design may follow that of the Zenbook, but just... smaller.

When asked about his thoughts on people replacing laptops less frequently, and perhaps shifting disposable income to smartphones and tablets, Jonney maintained that all of those markets were key to ASUS' success, and that none were taking a backseat. "We believe that this a very critical time, transitioning from the personal computing era to the ubiquitous cloud computing era." Sounds a bit like another mantra we heard, truth be told, but ASUS has been riding the cloud bandwagon long before most other consumer companies even knew what it was. The original spate of Eee PCs had next to no internal storage; rather, they relied on accessing the web in order to deliver the bulk of their functionality. Jonney also noted that ASUS is attempting to tackle an interesting problem with its products, which is that few people can truly separate work and entertainment -- in other words, you need products that adequately handle both worlds. We're guessing a Padfone + Transformer Prime + Zenbook is his preferred trifecta to do just that.