Acer, the world's third largest computer seller, said today that it will offer a new, low-cost laptop targeted primarily at emerging markets. Little is known about the model aside from the fact that will have a 7- or 9-inch display, cost about $470, and ship sometime in the second or third quarter. The specs and price would put it in direct competition with other low-cost models such as the Asus Eee PC and the Everex CloudBook, and to a lesser extent OLPC's XO laptop.
Acer had previously said it would not compete in this growing niche, but Asus has had some success with its Eee PC. And back in December, the newswire DigiTimes reported that Acer had ordered 1 million low-cost laptops in 2008 from Wistron, a contract manufacturer.
Asus currently offers four models: the Eee PC 2G Surf (512MB and 2GB SSD) for $300; Eee PC 4G Surf (512MB and 4GB SSD) for $350; the Eee PC 4G (512MB, 4GB SSD, and Webcam) for $400; and the Eee PC 8G (1GB, 8GB SSD, and Webcam). The 8G is still not widely available, but it will likely cost about $500. All of them have a 7-inch display and run either a Linux OS or Windows XP. Asus has previously stated that it hoped to sell 5 million Eee PCs worldwide this year; more recently it said component shortages would limit Q1 sales to around 700,000 units.
Everex's CloudBook goes on sale at Wal-Mart starting this Friday (2/15/08), according to the company. It will cost the same as the Eee PC 4G, but it uses a standard 30GB disk drive in place of the smaller SSD. It runs the gOS operating system, which is based on the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution, and includes the usual open-source suspects (Mozilla Firefox, OpenOffice 2.3 and GIMP, an image editing program).
Earlier this week, Acer said in a conference call that it hopes to ship 40% more laptops this year.