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HCL unveils another sub-Rs 10,000 PC

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(From left) Mr Ajay Marathe, Corporate Vice-President, AMD; Mr Dayanidhi Maran, Minister for IT & Communications; Mr Ajai Chowdhry. Chairman and CEO, HCL Tech; and Mr Doug Hauger, Director, Business & Marketing Operations, Microsoft India, at the launch of affordable computers in the Capital on Thursday. - - Ramesh Sharma

New Delhi , Oct. 13

PLANNING to purchase a low-cost personal computer? HCL Infosystems on Thursday has launched an AMD-powered, Linux-based PC priced at Rs 9,990.

The new HCL Ezeebee Pride computer — unveiled by the Communications and IT Minister, Mr Dayanidhi Maran — comes with a configuration of AMD x 86 1.6 GHz processor, 128 MB RAM, 40 GB Hard Disk Drive, 52X CD ROM, 15-inch colour monitor and Linux Operating System, and supports applications such as word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, Web browsers, e-mail and video conferencing.

The consumer also has the option of going for Microsoft Windows XP Starter Edition instead of Linux, for which the PC price would be Rs 11,240. However, in both the cases, handling, freight, forwarding, insurance and installation charges would attract an additional Rs 1,250.

"The real market is at the bottom of the pyramid. Unless the PC penetration increases from the current level, Internet and broadband will not take off in the country. Microsoft's recent announcement that by January of next year it would launch a bilingual Windows XP Starter Edition for India, supporting English as one of the languages, shows a forward thinking by Microsoft Chief Mr Bill Gates. In fact, I am sure that during Mr Gates' forthcoming visit to Delhi and Chennai, I will be able to persuade him to bring down the cost of the XP Starter Edition to Rs 750 from the existing Rs 1,250," Mr Maran said.

This is the second sub-Rs 10,000 PC from HCL's stable. In August this year, HCL had launched a Linux-based low cost PC dubbed `PC for India,' with one GHz processor from Taiwan-based VIA Technologies, 128 MB RAM, 40 GB hard disk, 15-inch digital colour monitor, 52X optical drive, keyboard and scroll mouse. Another company, Xenitis has also launched a below Rs 10,000 PC.

At present, the PC penetration in the country is 15 per 1,000 because majority of the PCs are too expensive. The Government wants to increase the number to 65 per 1,000 by 2008. Bringing down computer costs to below Rs 10,000 is one effective measure to achieve this goal.

Asked if the various sub-Rs 10,000 products would compete with each other for marketshare, Mr Ajai Chowdhry, Chairman and CEO of HCL Infosystems said, "We will introduce various models based on market demand. Ultimately, it is the market which will decide."

According to HCL, while the company has touched the bottom of the margins to launch the sub-Rs 10,000 PCs, the low-cost PC offered a viable business model because market demand made the exercise cost-effective.

HCL plans to increase its computer manufacturing capacity to one million units by the end of this year from the existing 600,000 units.

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