MIT Picks Maker of $100 Laptop

Taiwan's Quanta, the world's largest maker of notebook computers, will manufacture an ultra-low-cost laptop developed by Nicholas Negroponte, the chairman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab.

Negroponte, who is also chairman of the One Laptop Per Child non-profit group, has said he expects the laptops to be available to governments next year at a price of $100 each. A prototype of the laptop was unveiled at the recent U.N.-sponsored World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunis.

Under terms of an agreement with One Laptop Per Child, Quanta will devote engineering resources to develop the $100 notebook design during the first half of the year, according to a statement issued by the group. At the same time, Quanta and the non-profit organization will explore the production of a commercial version of the laptop.

One Laptop Per Child did not immediately respond to an e-mail request for additional information.

First Distribution

The first notebooks are expected to hit the market during the fourth quarter of next year, according to the organization. Representatives say they expect initial orders for the machines to range from 5 million to 15 million units. Pricing of the Linux-based notebooks is expected to start "near $100" and decrease over time.

One Laptop Per Child said trials of the notebook are planned for China, India, Brazil, Argentina, Egypt, Nigeria, and Thailand, with 1 million notebooks to be shipped to each of these countries. In addition, the group expects "an additional modest allocation" of the notebooks to be shipped to developers in other countries.

The group did not offer an explanation for the numerical difference between this forecast, which would involve shipments of at least 7 million notebooks, with the forecast that initial shipments could number 5 million units.

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