Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Världens billigaste netbook: The world's cheapest netbook

By Niklas Andersson [Photo]

This is just in from the Swedish magazine Tech World via the Swedish version of the IDG website http://opensource.idg.se/2.1014/1.238036/varldens-billigaste-netbook. The translation is by Google:

"Nicolas Negroponte's dream of a computer for a hundred U.S. dollars looks to soon come true, but it is not his own creation that crosses the finishing line.

The Belco Alpha 400 has been sold for as little as 1070 kronor for a sales campaign.

A computer should not cost more than a hundred U.S. dollars, thought MIT professor Nicholas Negroponte, and he started the project One Laptop Per Child (OLPC).

The project launched what Sony called a "race to the bottom" with constantly falling prices and reduced margins.

OLPC developed around Linux for cutting off what became the single largest cost component - the operating system.

OLPC and Linux became the catalyst for the entire netbook industry, where ASUS was the first out with its Eee PC-700, which took the world by storm and where the sales target was up to five million units. Since then, the majority of PC manufacturers had to jump on the netbook train with continued depressed prices as a result.

OLPC project since its inception has had several difficult periods. Negroponte's controversial move that the device could also ship with Windows has outraged the open-source community, which endorsed the product mainly for it to ship with free software. OLPC has also seen itself forced to fire much of the staff, and sales success has failed to materialize.

The last public price information for an OLPC was at $188, or $88 off target.

The price has now, however, been approached by a number of manufacturers with models like the Asus Eee PC-900 which Geek.com sells for $194.99. [Note: Andersson, like journalist Caitlyn Martin in the US, does not distinguish between new and REFURBISHED. The PC-900 at Geeks is a refurb. The Alpha is brand new, never tampered with.]

If processor architecture is a minor consideration, there are even cheaper computers. Belco Alpha 400 is a netbook with a MIPS processor, and the computer approached during a campaign a price of $139. http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?InvtId=ALPHA-400&cm_mmc=GoogleProducts-_-Laptops/Notebooks-_-NetBooks-_-ALPHA-400&utm_source=GoogleProducts&utm_medium=ShoppingSites&utm_campaign=ALPHA-400

Most point to the trend of falling prices continuing. The company behind the processor ARM say they have several models ready for the autumn, which in addition to lower price will offer significantly longer battery times.

The cheapest netbooks we see today go for $139, or around 1070 SEK. So for the mini size, we have 70 kronor left until our dream limit is reached - a thousand kronor - which may take place as soon as autumn.

Nicolas Negroponte should probably wait until next year.

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