Quanta to begin production of $100 notebooks in Q1 2007

Posted by Wolfgang Gruener

Chicago (IL) - Taiwanese computer manufacturer Quanta said that it will start producing $100 notebooks as part of the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) initiative in the first quarter of next year, according to a report published by Digitimes. Earlier reports had speculated that production may already begin in October of this year.

The ambitious project, which was first announced by Nicholas Negroponte at the World Economic Forum in 2005 and aims to provide children around the world with a more affordable alternative to use information technology, has been rumored for some time to be facing production delays. Leung's statement contradicts previous reports that production may be beginning in Shanghai in October and potentially indicates that the notebook is running more than one quarter behind its initial schedule.

According to Digitimes, Leung claimed that the first quarter of next year "is the only reasonable deadline to begin production." Quanta president and chief operating officer Michael Wang earlier said that the $100 notebook will be available for purchase in the first half of next year.

The OLPC notebook will be based on 500 MHz AMD processor. A 512 MB flash memory unit will serve as storage device; the LCD screen runs at a 1110 x 830 pixel resolution in black and white and in 640 x 480 pixel resolution in color mode. According to the OLPC, the notebooks will integrate "innovative power (including wind-up)," wireless broadband capability and "will be able to do most everything except store huge amounts of data."

Quanta shipped 8.8 million notebooks in the first half of 2006, according to Leung. For the complete year, the company expects to ship between 22 and 23 million notebooks.

Microsoft, which is absent from the OLPC initiative, recently introduced its own program to reach more people in emerging markets. Microsoft's idea - referred to as "FlexGo" technology - circles around the prepaid phone card, which has been established especially in regions and population groups with changing income.

Just like the phone, Microsoft's pay-as-you-go PC would be subsidized by the usage of "minutes," purchased for example at convenience stores. The company claims that such an approach could reduce the entry cost of a PC by "50% or more." Other than with the prepaid mobile phone model, consumers would actually own their PC after a certain number of minutes has been purchased.