[AI] Nonprofit may launch $350 laptop by Christmas

Rakesh Kumar Gupta rkgd1964 at yahoo.co.in
Tue Jul 24 18:04:09 EDT 2007

Nonprofit may launch $350 laptop by Christmas

By Reuters
Tuesday July 24, 06:55 AM

By Jim Finkle

BOSTON (Reuters) - A nonprofit group that designs low-cost computers for 
poor children may start selling $350 laptops on the commercial market by 
an executive said on Monday.

The One Laptop Per Child Foundation's chief technology officer, Mary Lou 
Jepsen, said the computer could sell initially for about $350, or twice its 
cost, although the group is also considering a higher price tag.

Its entry to the commercial market would be a challenge to traditional PC 
industry companies, including Microsoft Corp., Dell Inc., Hewlett-Packard 
and Lenovo Group Ltd.

"The PC industry will be watching this very closely," said Roger Kay, an 
analyst with PC market researcher Endpoint Technologies Associates Inc.

Although the green-and-white XO was designed for elementary school children 
in poor countries, analysts say that some of the features make it attractive
to kids in wealthier countries as well as adults.

The foundation has kept its costs down by developing its own technology, 
including the display, and using a relatively inexpensive microprocessor 
from Advanced
Micro Devices Inc.

It also uses free Linux software, saving the cost of paying to use 
Microsoft's Windows operating system.

Designed to withstand severe weather common in areas of Asia, Africa and 
Latin America, it is waterproof and features a high-resolution display that 
be read in direct sunlight. Its battery can run for 12 hours on one charge. 
The battery can also be charged with a hand-crank.

OLPC is in talks with several companies that would handle consumer sales and 
technical support for the foundation. Jepsen said that the group wants to 
the devices over the Internet and is talking to three companies with "a big 
presence on the Web," but declined to identify them by name.

Foundation executives have previously said that they didn't intend to 
commercialize the product this year as they wanted to focus their energy on 
the educational market in developing countries.

But now they are evaluating whether it makes sense to quickly move into the 
commercial market, using profits from those sales toward the cost of making
laptops for poor children, Jepsen said.

"Our whole goal is to maximize the number of units shipped," she said.

She talked about plans for commercializing the product on Monday as the 
foundation said it has formally authorized mass production of the device to 
in October, with an original order of some 3 million machines.

The machines will be manufactured in China by Taiwan's Quanta Computer Inc.

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