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Portugal signs deal for half a million Classmate PCs

Already built. Intel is one happy customer
Thu Jul 31 2008, 16:32

UNDER THE MOTTO “One child, one explorer”, the Portuguese PM José Socrates presented the Magalhães (Magellan) Classmate PC, noon Wednesday. The Magalhães, will be built in Portugal, in Matosinhos, and is a joint venture led by two Portuguese companies (JP Sá Couto and Prologica).

This is effectively a second-generation Classmate PC, and integrates a Celeron ULV part and uses Linux, although down the line it is expected to migrate to a fully Atom-based system with a “lighter version of Windows” (whatever that is).

The Magalhães certainly looks the part. It’s slightly ruggedised and has that nifty leather-like handle that we’ve all seen before. What we hadn’t seen is a factory actually churning out the little blighters.


Craig Barrett, Intel Supremo and Chairman of the Board was also in attendance and delivered the “world economics speech” praising Portugal’s advance in technology, innovation and broadband. Which is all quite true: Portugal’s telecoms have modernised the infrastructure and doubled (consumer) broadband width every six months or so thanks to cut-throat competition and an appetite for growth.

alt='craig_socrates2' Craig Barrett should be smiling as much as the PM, Intel has just scored a big deal for itself.

PM Sócrates added that “by year’s end, 100 per cent of the ODM technology will be Made in Portugal”, effectively creating the first Portuguese owned, operated and located ODM in history. They have ECS to thank for this, but we guess it could’ve been any mobo maker. ECS was just wise enough to jump on the wagon right away, ‘cos it’s a small wagon with room for only one passenger.

The first batch of Classmate PCs is near completion, built at the current JP Sá Couto facilities and will be distributed to primary school kiddies across Portugal – this will absorb 500,000 units – at heavily subsidized prices, and in some cases for free. Portugal, you see, is a welfare state, and most public services cost nothing or next to nothing - mix in the fact that the current government made a campaign promise for hi-tech adoption and you see where this comes from.

School kiddies will be broken down into three groups according to family income: those requiring welfare get the Magalhães for free; those on partial welfare get it for just €20, and those with higher incomes will have to pay €50 for it. We’re sure subsidized means “xx-month contract” with a telecom contract (TMN, Optimus, Vodafone, PT and Zon).

The odd report or two is putting export targets for this laptop in Libya (the Portuguese PM recently visited the country and signed several trade agreements), Venezuela (yes, well, business is business) and Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa. Intel reps, however, were quick to correct the matter: “not just Venezuela, but all of Latin America”.

Finally, the deal between ECS and the consortium is also interesting. ECS will transfer technology to JP Sá Couto, “Iberia’s biggest OEM”, and effectively lead to the Portuguese company’s creation of said ODM spin-off that builds the Classmate PCs from scratch. ECS’s Jerry Yang was on hand (literally) to sign off the paperwork with the Portuguese company.

The official details on the BOM state the computer costs €180 to manufacture, although a source told us €369 total - but no mind that: thanks to the wheeling and dealing with Portugal’s telecom operators (mobile and fixed) the cost was driven way down and made affordable to Portuguese families. It’s a sure bet the Portuguese state is also investing some money into the project, although there was no one at hand that would answer such a question.

Intel and the Portuguese government hope this sets an example and other countries rapidly follow suit in deploying the Classmate PC to schools. µ


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