IDF, Shanghai – Intel today launched its second-generation Classmate PC and revealed that it will no longer be restricted solely to the education and emerging market sectors.
The new iteration Classmate, which could be feasibly priced at between $250 and $300 for a base model, should be commercially available in markets such as the US and western and eastern Europe in Q3 when Intel launches its Netbook range of products.
Tom Rampone, VP sales and marketing group and GM channel platforms group at Intel, says that demand from users has driven the Classmate to expand out of its tradiitonal education and emerging market niches, and into the mainstream market.
"A year ago when we launched the Classmate, we didn't even have Netbook in our vocabulary," Rampone says. "But today, it is very representative of Netbook – it is Netbook – targeted at education and targeted at kids.
"In the past year, Intel has got more excited about Netbook based on the demand from customers and Classmate will go on the front-end of Notebook," he says. "We've decided to bring Classmate into the [broader] market so that when Netbook is launched in Q3, we're not going in cold."
The decision to make the Classmate more commercially available has been spurred on by companies such as HCL Infosystems in India which started customising the Classmate for customers outside the education market.
"We were the first to bring Classmate outside of education," says HCL product manager, Sudipto Shekhar Ghosh. "The biggest success factor here was not only the cost of the Classmate, but also the product's design, which lends itself to customisation.
"We have adapted and localised the Classmate for the Indian market and it has been a huge success," he says.
The new generation Classmate will continue in this vein with added features including a camera, nine-inch display, 30Gb drive and support for mesh networking being made available.
Pricing hasn't yet been finalised, but Rampone says the new Classmate could retail for below $300.
"It is certainly possible that a retailer could configure it so that it comes out at a price point below $300," he says. "But I think it is most likely to be a mid-$300 price point as features and warranties are selected.
"Ideally, it would cost between $250 and $300 – it is quite possible to deliver it on retail shelves for that price," he says.
Rampone wouldn't reveal any sales projections for the Classmate, saying only: "We've been running at a run-rate of tens of thousands of units per quarter and this quarter it is up to hundreds of thousands of units. I'm not going to disclose any more details."