Amstrad slashes price of e-m@iler

Sir Alan Sugar is embracing the sprit of the January sales with a 50 percent cut in the cost of an e-m@iler Plus

UK consumer electronics manufacturer Amstrad is halving the price of its e-m@iler Plus in an attempt to boost uptake of the device.

Amstrad announced on Thursday that it has cut the cost of an e-m@iler Plus -- which currently retails for around £99 in the shops -- to £49.99. This product supports email, Web browsing, SMS, and Sinclair ZX Spectrum games, and is the latest version of Amstrad's e-m@iler phone.

The company already makes a loss on each e-m@iler Plus it sells, but it explained that this additional subsidy will be partly offset by lower manufacturing costs, and the recent addition of extra revenue streams for the product.

"We have had nearly three years experience of running the e-m@iler business and the revenue earned per phone has held up well, and we continue to add new revenue earning services to the phone," said Simon Sugar, Amstrad's commercial director, in a statement.

"The significant increase to the installed base expected from this move will enhance the future profitability of the e-m@iler business," Sugar added, insisting that Amstrad is committed to the e-m@iler.

The original e-m@iler -- a desktop model that allows users to send and receive email and includes a digital answerphone and detachable PDA -- was launched in March 2000, attracting both praise and criticism.

Amstrad chairman Sir Alan Sugar declared that Amstrad would sell one million e-m@ilers by the middle of 2002, and some commentators predicted that Sugar was set to repeat the success of his Amstrad personal computers in the 1980s.

Others in the industry were less impressed, suggesting that the e-m@iler was arriving too late in the UK market given the widespread take-up of PCs. Some predicted that the 12p fee for checking for new mail would deter many potential customers.

In September 2000, after selling an estimated 100,000 e-m@ilers, Amstrad announced a new model -- the e-m@iler Plus -- which also supported Web browsing, Sinclair ZX Spectrum games and a USB printer.

An Amstrad spokesman told ZDNet UK that around 125,000 units have been sold so far, and that it was clear that cutting the retail price to £49.99 would stimulate future sales of the e-m@iler Plus.

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