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Asustek Computer, the world’s largest maker of computer mainboards, and Intel Corp., the No. 1 producer of x86 microprocessors, have teamed up to create notebooks that are aimed at third world countries and cost from $199 to $299. The plan means growing importance of developing markets for large manufacturers of electronics.

Sean Maloney, Intel’s chief sales and marketing executive, announced during his keynote at Computex Taipei 2007 trade-show that Intel and Asustek are working together to offer a family of education focused, low-cost mobile PCs, with one model that will cost $199. The new systems will be marketed using traditional channels and will be available not only for governments, like machines that belong to “one laptop per child” (OLPC) program, but for end-users as well, which would allow families with low income to obtain a computer.

“Asustek’s mobile PCs will play a key role in Intel’s World Ahead program that aims to accelerate access to fully-featured computers and technology for anyone, anywhere around the world,” a statement by Mr. Maloney reads.

Currently specifications of the systems that will cost $199 - $299 are not known, however, some reports claim that the computers will be positioned below another Intel’s initiative, the so-called Classmate PCs.

The low-cost “classmate PC” laptop is based on Intel Celeron M 900MHz central processing unit (with no L2 cache), Intel 915GMS core-logic, features 256MB of DDR2 memory and is equipped with 1GB or 2GB of NAND flash memory, which substitutes hard disk drive. The device is equipped with 7” display with 800x480 resolution and uses Windows XP or Linux operating system. The device, which weighs 1.3kg, sports 10/100Mb/s Ethernet adapter and 802.11b/g wireless network controller.

The announcement of low-cost computers emphasizes importance of developing markets for both Asustek and Intel. Leading manufacturers of computers or computer components need to penetrate the third-world countries not only because their large capacities, but also because of the fact that if today those markets are eager to buy $199-worth computers, tomorrow people will get more educated and will look forward more sophisticated technology.


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