Seoul (South Korea) – The Korea Herald reported Friday morning, Seoul time, that Samsung, Microsoft, and Intel have jointly announced the price and availability of the first UMPC to reach retail stores worldwide, Samsung’s Q1, unveiled last month in a worldwide event, and at the CeBIT show in Hannover. It will be available on 1 May (ironically, in “Q2”) under the brand name “Sens Q1,” and will sell for a suggested $1,250, though some sources are reporting pre-orders are being taken for as high as $1,400.
While sources following the UMPC scene – if there is one – are casting new theories about the possible rising cost of the new form factor, a Samsung source told the Herald that observers should take into account that the company’s own mainstream laptop system, the Q30, sells for easily twice that amount (about $2,500) in Korea.
Samsung’s Q1 UMPC, which goes on sale 1 May in South Korea under the ‘Sens Q1’ brand name.
This news came as one of the new UMPC blogs trumpeted an announcement from Averatec, that had apparently been delayed days earlier, of a UMPC system called the AHI. Like the Q1, the AHI would run on an ultra-low-voltage Celeron processor, have Windows XP Tablet PC Edition pre-installed, and promises a battery life of six hours – instead of the 15 minutes the Q1 prototypes were displaying at CeBIT. The price, according to a source who had attended an Averatec briefing – and had taken home slides to prove it – would be just over $1,000, and may first sell to the European market.
But blogs which had featured links to the Averatec news earlier yesterday, were posting retractions this morning, claiming Averatec had asked them to remove links to the original story – which still appears on its original Web site.
Further exacerbating the veracity of the rumor mill is the problem of multiple sources having apparently misread the Korea Herald story, attributing the price the Samsung official attributed to the mainstream laptop Q30 (over two million Korean won) as the price of the Sens Q1 (1.2 million won). Some were perpetuating the misquote alongside a rumor that Samsung would be producing a version of the Q1 with a Via CPU rather than an Intel Celeron, at a lower $700 price tag.
Just a few weeks prior to its retail availability, the UMPC form factor seems to be generating more questionable news than sensible news. But one sensible question emerges: Will the UMPC’s price and features relegate it to a niche market? If the Samsung official quoted by the Herald is conveying a picture of a price structure that could apply globally, a UMPC that’s half as expensive as the average laptop would certainly make it appealing to more than a niche market.
Microsoft’s general manager for Korea, Yoo Jae-Sung, has a name for the market that his company, Samsung, and Intel (and, if you believe the rumors, Via) are targeting: Samsung is a heavyweight company, Yoo said, avoiding niches and targeting the “blue-ocean” market instead. But the waves on that ocean reach the shores of North America, bring with them an ill wind of possible four-digit price tags, which won’t be greeted here with much excitement.