Perhaps the better question is, "Who isn't getting into mini-notebooks these days?"
The latest rumor floating around is that Korean electronics giant LG has asked MSI to build for it a tiny notebook based on Intel's Netbook reference design containing an Atom processor.
This one was started by Digitimes, and it says that MSI will make a Windows XP-based mini-notebook with an 8.9-inch screen, 2GB of memory, and a 120GB hard drive.
Those specs are closer to Hewlett-Packard's mini-notebook, the 2133 Mini-Note, released this spring, than MSI's much-talked about Netbook, the Wind. (MSI and LG couldn't be reached for comment, but we'll update if we hear back.)
HP's machine has a 9-inch screen, 2GB of RAM, and a 160GB hard drive or 64GB SSD, and comes with the option of Windows XP or Vista. It's also got a pretty hefty price tag--it starts at $499 and can get above $1,000 depending on the configuration.
The Digitimes report pegs the price for an LG Netbook in the same range, from $625 to $790. If true, this would fit in with the idea mentioned in April with the launch of the Mini-Note that there's a fork developing in the tiny-notebook segment.
Asus has pretty much got the low-cost notebook market covered with its Eee PC. They're small, cheap, run Linux, and basically are good for surfing the Web and checking e-mail. There are mainstream PC makers already playing in that realm too, like Acer's Aspire One.
The Mini-Note and the description of LG's potential entry in the category have greater ambitions: they're really just full-featured Windows notebooks cut down to size. Though HP has defined its market (it says the Mini-Note is for mobile executives and the education market), it's unclear who LG would be targeting with such a notebook.
PC industry analysts continue to say there's limited appeal with these types of devices because the mainstream consumer can't use it as a primary computer. And PC makers are more or less unenthused since all they do is drive down prices on full-size notebooks. But most are jumping in anyway. With margins thinning out on PCs, even the big guys like HP and Dell--which will release a mini-notebook next month--can ill afford to leave any potential revenue on the table.