Intel offers Classmate PC to vendors in developed countries

Intel opens up access to its low-cost Classmate PC to developed countries

Intel's Classmate PC isn't just for students in emerging markets anymore. The low-cost laptop will be made available to companies that want to sell it to consumers in developed countries, an Intel executive said last Wednesday.

"During the last quarter, we have seen tremendous interest in the Classmate PC from customers outside education," said Tom Rampone, an Intel vice president and general manager of the company's Channel Platforms Group, adding that Asustek Computer's Eee PC helped stoke wider interest in low-cost laptops.

Originally designed for schools in emerging markets where computer access is rare, the Classmate PC uses a low-power version of the Celeron M processor and a 7-inch screen. Intel is working on a second version of the Classmate PC, earlier revealing plans to use its upcoming Atom processor in the new laptop. Detailed specifications of the device have yet to be revealed.

Intel sees the Classmate PC as just one of a range of low-cost laptops now being developed that the chip maker and others call "netbooks." These laptops are generally expected to cost between US$250 and $300, depending on how they are configured, when they hit the market later this year.

The move to expand the availability of Classmate PC to PC vendors in developed markets follows a push to make the Classmate PC more widely available to consumers in emerging markets. For example, HCL Infosystems of India announced a laptop, called MiLeap X, earlier this year that is based on the Classmate PC design but marketed as a low-cost computer for consumers and businessmen instead of students.

The second version of the Classmate PC will be available to PC vendors in a range of configurations, but will retain the same basic design when sold by different vendors, Rampone said. In addition to versions for consumers, running either Linux or Windows, the laptop will be available in configurations, complete with educational software, aimed at schools in developed countries, he said.

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