Intel's Classmate PC notebook, which competes with the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) XO laptop, is getting a big boost after Portugal contracts to purchase 500,000 of these Intel laptops for students.
Intel is poised to announce an agreement with Portugal
that will bring 500,000 of the Intel-designed
Classmate PC notebooks into the hands of thousands of elementary school
Intel Chairman Craig Barrett and Portuguese Prime Minister Jos??Â« S??crates are
expected to announce the agreement July 30 in Lisbon.
The Classmate PC laptops will be distributed as part of Portugal's
Magellan Initiative, which looks to bring more technology into the classroom.
For Intel, the agreement with the Portuguese government represents one of
the largest deployments of its Classmate PC design. The notebooks destined for Portugal
are manufactured by ECS, which is based in Taiwan,
and also by JP S??Â¡ Couto, a local Portuguese manufacturer.
The Classmate PC is Intel's own version of the low-cost laptop. Since the
start of 2008, OEMs from Hewlett-Packard to Acer have been trying to duplicate
the marketing success that Asus has enjoyed with the launch of its low-cost Eee
PC, which is designed for children and adults in emerging markets. In addition
to the Classmate, Intel
has also designed a version of its new Atom processor
to specifically work
with this new category of low-cost laptops that the chip maker has called
The fact that Intel is rushing into the education market means that the
company is also looking to square off against the nonprofit One Laptop Per Child project and its
laptop called the XO.
Earlier this year, Intel
broke with the OLPC project
after a series of disagreements and forged
ahead with its Classmate design, which costs between $250 and $300.
"Intel broke with OLPC. They have made it pretty clear that they are
going after the same market, and it looks as if they are using some of the same
tactics, and I think it's purely competitive," said Roger Kay, president
of Endpoint Technologies Associates.
Since the Classmate is more of a design than an actual product, it provides
both a way to supply low-cost PCs and give local manufacturers, as well as
Intel, a way to make a profit. Intel did not disclose what each Classmate PC
laptop cost for the deployment in Portugal.
"Intel, on the other hand, is reliably businesslike," said Kay.
"They want to sell processors. It's clear what their motive is, and they
are really good at it."
The first round of the Classmate PC laptops for Portugal
will use Intel's older Celeron processor before switching to a new
batch manufactured with the newer Atom chip, said Lila Ibrahim,
general manager of the Intel's Emerging Markets Platform Group.
The newer Classmate PC design also allows for a number of extras that were
unavailable in the older designs, such as hard disk drives with a 30GB
capacity. Other features include more RAM-512MB
compared with the previous 256MB in the older models-and it will support
Microsoft Windows, as well as the Metasys and Ubuntu Linux operating systems.
The Classmate also now offers a 9-inch display, compared with the older
7-inch display model.