Quanta Computer, Compal Electronics, and Inventec, which are reportedly bidding to manufacture the world’s cheapest notebook distributed to schools directly through large government initiatives, consider that meeting the volume shipment schedule for the US$100 notebook would be “unlikely” given the current technical hurdles that need to be overcome.In January 2005, the non-profit “One Laptop Per Child” (OLPC) group from the Media Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) unveiled a US$100 Linux-based laptop, aimed at carrying out the OLPC’s goal
of providing computer access to children in seven developing countries – China, India, Egypt, Nigeria, Brazil, Thailand, and Argentina.
The OLPC project will need huge support from governments to solve a variety of software and hardware problems including handwriting recognition, translation, and panel issues, all under a low-cost production budget, Taiwan notebook makers stated. Related components for the low-cost notebooks are still in the design stage, indicated the makers, noting that a 7.5-inch display sample for the US$100 model could be released by January of next year at the soonest.
If all the software and hardware components for the low-cost notebook were ready, Taiwan notebook makers would be able to enter mass production within five months, the makers commented.
Nicholas Negroponte, chairman of the Media Lab, was cited
by the Financial Times
as stating that the initial production under the US$100 laptop project is expected to kick off by 2006. Four Taiwan-based notebook ODMs and one Korean company are currently bidding, said Negroponte, quoted by the paper.
The OLPC group has negotiated with Quanta, Compal, Inventec, and Wistron, as well as EMS giant Foxconn Electronics (the registered trade name of Hon Hai Precision Industry), according to sources at Taiwan notebook makers. Due to large R&D requirements of developing US$100 and US$200 notebooks, though, Foxconn has been excluded from the list, the sources noted.
In addition, Samsung Electronics is the only non-Taiwan supplier for the bid, the sources added.
In related news, sources at Quanta, Compal, Wistron, and Inventec indicated that orders of the low-cost notebook will not be calculated into their annual shipment records in 2007, as the companies intend to help sponsor the OLPC project rather than raise their market shares through the bid.