Thu, Dec 15, 2005 - Page 11 News List

Quanta Computer wins One Laptop per Child bid

AMBITIOUS PROJECT Outbidding three other makers, Quanta assured investors that the project would not be a money-losing venture that may affect its profitability

By Amber Chung  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan's Quanta Computer Inc (廣達電腦) has been chosen as the original design manufacturer (ODM) for the ambitious US$100 laptop project called "One Laptop per Child (OLPC)," according to a news release posted on the Web site of the Delaware-based, non-profit organization under the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Media Lab.

The decision was made yesterday after the OLPC's board of directors reviewed bids from several possible manufacturing companies, the statement read. The local media had earlier reported that the organization negotiated with Quanta, Compal Computer Inc (仁寶電腦), Inventec Co (英業達) and Wistron Corp (緯創) before making its final decision.

The initiative to develop a US$100 laptop in a bid to revolutionize global education for children was first announced by Nicholas Negroponte, Media Lab chairman and co-founder, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January.

"Any previous doubt that a very-low-cost laptop could be made for education in the developing world has just gone away," Negroponte said in the statement.

Quanta has already signed the contract with the US organization, company spokesman Tim Li (李杜榮) told the Taipei Times last night in a phone interview.

However, since the whole project is still in the initial stage with a few technological issues that have to be resolved, such as model specifications, it is difficult to predict the exact time and quantity for mass production, Li said.

But OLPC said in the statement that Quanta has agreed to devote a significant part of Quanta Research Institute's engineering resources in the first half of next year, with a target of bringing the product to market in the fourth quarter of next year, the statement said.

Li said Quanta can benefit from the project by reinventing cost-saving production through the sharing of research and development resources with other leading global companies such as central processing unit maker Advanced Micro Devices Inc and other panel makers, which will ultimately be advantageous to their clients.

The project would not be a money-losing business that could impact the company's margin and profitability, as Quanta is a profitable organization and knows its responsibility to its shareholders, he added.

According to OLPC, the 5 million to 15 million laptops will be launched in seven culturally diverse countries, namely, China, India, Brazil, Argentina, Egypt, Nigeria and Thailand.

The organization will allocate one million units in each of these countries, with an additional modest allocation of machines to seed developer communities in a number of other selected countries. A commercial version of the machine will be explored in parallel, it said in the statement.

The laptops will be sold to governments and issued to children by schools on the basis of one laptop per child. These machines will be rugged, Linux-based, and so energy-efficient that hand-cranking alone can generate sufficient power for operation, it said.

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