Intel Promises Sub-$300 PCs For Some Markets

Intel is set to unveil sub-$300 systems in the next several weeks aimed in part at underdeveloped countries including a pay-for-usage community system in India.

Bill Siu, Vice President and General Manager of the Intel Channel Platforms Group, told CRN the new systems have to be "meaningfully lower" than the current $300 to $400 Celeron systems to be effective for underdeveloped countries. "You will see the results in the next several weeks," he said.

The Intel effort is part of the chip giant's aggressive plan to bring PCs to the next billion people, said Siu.

"This is a market that is many more times bigger than the market we currently serve," said Siu. "We believe that by providing not just a product but a total solution addressing the relevancy of this product in the local market, local content, connectivity, financing and education initiatives, we can provide computing solutions to the next billion people."

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"Intel has a breadth of products," added Siu, who showed off one of the new small box offerings at the Intel Solutions Summit on Sunday night.

"Some will be launched in India. Some will be in Latin America. This is a global effort we are doing. We expect these products to eventually proliferate around the world."

The Intel effort aimed at underdeveloped countries comes with a race of sorts to bring PCs to underdeveloped countries.

MIT Media Lab cofounder Nicholas Negroponte and his One Laptop Per Child non profit foundation has proposed a $100 windup powered laptop aimed at children in underdeveloped countires.

Siu said the $100 products that have thus far been proposed for developing countries have more PDA like functionality than PC functionality. Intel is taking the low priced PC to a new level, he said.

"The purpose of owning a PC is to be able to access content and to utilize the software that is available out there," said Siu of the new Intel offerings in comparison to proposed $100 systems. "So giving me a product that is under served does not address the reason why you want to even own the product in the first place. The product I described onstage is a full function PC that can take advantage of all the software and content. We believe that so far people have missed the point." Some systems proposed for underdeveloped countries have limited use without the ability to load software, said Siu.

"Even $100 is a lot of money for a device that you can't use to access content," said Siu. "It would be like if you have a collection of DVDs I sell you a limited access model that doesn't play DVDs but is cheap. Is that wonderful? Is that useful? I think it is a waste of your money."

In some cases, the new systems will address specific usage models in underdeveloped countries such as lease or pay per use, said Siu."The price point is a difficult question to answer in that context," he said.

"For example, the India model we will be introducing in a few weeks is a community usage model. You pay a fee and you use it." Furthermore, a number of initiatives in different parts of world are aimed at providing hardware on a leased basis by telcommunications companies, said Siu.