Wednesday, February 18, 2009

$200 and $100 Netbooks

I previously covered the decreasing cost of netbooks.

Recently, they have gone down even more.
Dell has offered their inspiron mini 9 netbook with Ubuntu for a starting price of $200 recently.
The SSD upgrades may be expensive, but this a real netbook with an intel atom @1.6 ghz, a 9" 1024x600 LED screen, a 4 cell battery, and other usual specs for $200.

Unfortunately this was just a temporary promotion to get rid of the old stock in preparation for their newer model coming out. It is now currently $250.

Recently there was also a model with 1 GB of ram and a (presumably slow) 16GB SSD by acer for $240.

Now on the ARM processor (power efficient but can't run desktop Windows) front there's even more progress. Freescale expects to be able to make a model for $100.


These $100 models may very well run Ubuntu and Google's Android. At least higher end models with a Freescale ARM processor will.

You can read the original announcement here on the Freescale based netbooks here.

They cite the possibility of these netbooks being used for Indian schoolchildren once they are at $100. The OLPC could face some competition unless they move from the soon-to-be-abandoned AMD x86 Geode to an ARM processor to match the price. At least the OLPC still has other factors going for it still like the sunlight-readable screen and its rugged design.

Still, even if you aren't a schoolchild and you will merely be using a netbook indoors without roughing it up, the social implications of a $100 computer are enormous. At that price there will be no reason (in the 1st world) not to own a computer if you want one and have internet access. More less-committed people and impoverished people will be able to own one. People will also be able to buy their small children real computers. Linux will gain an advantage as Microsoft will not be able to port Windows XP Starter Edition or Windows 7 Starter Edition so easily, and even then they would need companies to port their proprietary software, including drivers. Open-Source software is more readily ported to these platforms, and that's why Ubuntu is nearly complete at being ported.

Yes the future looks bright for affordable computing.

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