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Intel unveils low-cost PCs

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Digital divide is quite real in India, says CEO Otellini

World Ahead programme
These machines will hit the markets in 60 days.
Tie-up with PC vendors, ICICI Bank; pricing yet to be decided.
Working with VSNL for connectivity to RailTel cybercafes.

BRIDGING DIGITAL DIVIDE: Mr Paul S. Otellini, President and Chief Executive Officer, Intel Corporation, addressing a press conference in Bangalore on Tuesday. -- G.R.N. Somashekar

Bangalore, May 23

As part of its World Ahead programme, an initiative to bridge digital divide, chip major Intel Corp displayed three low cost devices here on Tuesday.

Aimed at the Indian market, these include an affordable yet full-featured desktop PC that runs on an energy efficient microprocessor; a community PC adapted to Indian conditions and Eduwise, a notebook targeted at school students.

"With only two per cent of India's population having a PC or Internet connection, the challenge is large. The digital divide is quite real in India," Mr Paul Otellini, President and CEO of Intel, told reporters.

On his maiden visit to India, Mr Otellini said, the new affordable PC will be available at 20 per cent less than the lowest priced Intel computers currently available in the market. These also consume 50 per cent less power than PCs, he said.

"People really want a full-featured PC. They want an optical drive, Internet access and even the ability to run games. No one wants to cross the digital divide with old technology," Mr Otellini said.

Intel has tied up with PC vendors such as Wipro, Zenith Computers, PCS, HCL and Millennium to make available these PCs, which would hit the markets in 60 days. Intel has also tied up with ICICI Bank to facilitate loans for the buyers.

Vendors to decide

"It is up to the vendors to arrive at the pricing of this new PC which is likely to be decided over the next 30-45 days," said Mr R.K. Amar Babu, Managing Director for South Asia.

In another initiative, Mr Otellini said, Intel would work closely with Tata VSNL to bring Intel PCs and WiMAX wireless broadband connectivity to Tata's RailTel cyber cafes across India to increase accessibility to PCs and Internet connectivity at railway stations. Intel aims to spend $1 billion over the next five years to promote Internet use and computer training in developing markets such as India and Mexico as part of its World Ahead programme. The company expects to train over 800,000 teachers in India alone as part the programme.

Further, Mr Otellini said `Eduwise' the small, affordable and rugged learning devices for students would be available in India in the first half of 2007. It is likely to be priced at less than $400 ( Rs 18,000).

The device's hardware and software was developed at the platform definition centre in Bangalore, one of Intel's four such centres worldwide that builds specialised products for emerging markets.

Talks on chip plant

Intel, which is facing increasing competition from rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc, also plans to win back market share during 2006, he said.

The company is in talks with the Indian government on setting up a chip plant in India. "We're not prepared to announce any new plans for that today," Mr Otellini said, adding that the company was helping the Indian government prepare an overall policy framework for setting up chip plants in the country.

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