Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Laptops become a commodity

InfoWorld: Wal-Mart breaks price barrier with Linspire Linux laptop
Wal-Mart is offering a laptop that dives below the $500 pricepoint, and it's no accident the machine, from Linspire, runs a Linux-based operating system.

The Balance laptop, at $498, enters a mass market at a price that will undoubtedly accelerate Linux adoption.

The laptop comes with the OS, Internet suite, and Microsoft-file compatible office suite and can be used with both dial-up modems and broadband connections. The machine comes with a VIA C3, 1.0 GHz processor, 128 MB of RAM, which is expandable up to 512 MB with SODIMM (Small Outline Dual In-line Memory Modules). It includes a CD-ROM drive and a 14.1-inch LCD screen...

... The laptop's included Mozilla Internet suite comes with a fast-functioning browser and email program that can display Web-based forms, PDF documents, images, and multimedia files. The suite's included instant messenger program works with AOL, MSN and Yahoo logins.

No-one makes money on desktop machines. I recall reading that if one excluded the kickbacks Microsoft provided Dell, that they lost money on their best selling desktop machines. Laptops were different -- they still had a solid margin.

Not any more. Only Apple will be able to demand a premium for their top selling entry-level laptops, and the iBook may drop to $900 or so. Updrade this thing to 512MB and hook it up to a monitor/mouse/kb and there's a very compact and virus-free machine for my mother to use -- with gmail for her email.

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