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Portuguese Classmate PC to circumnavigate globe

“Magellan”, they call it
Wed Jul 30 2008, 09:28

WE'VE ALL READ ABOUT THE DEALS that Intel has brokered around the world to flog its netbooks/ nettops/ classmate PCs. What hasn’t been exactly clear in all this is: who’ll be in charge of actually building the computers?

Well, the Portuguese government and a local mayor have blurted out “Me! Me! Me!” in an excited frenzy, pointing out that a consortium of hardware makers – headed by Intel and a top Portuguese PC maker called “JP Sá Couto” – will setup shop in the Portuguese town of Matosinhos and start popping out netbooks and/or nettops under the "Magalhães" brand (that’s the original name for Magellan, the 15th century Portuguese navigator) targeting the education market and more specifically, children aged 6 through 10.

The new factory will be located in the Freixieiro (“Fray-shee-ay-roh”) zone of Matosinhos, a highly industrialised location with more vowels than consonants, right next to IKEA’s brand new factory and close to JP Sá Couto’s own manufacturing facilities. According to the same source, the factory is expected to pop out 4 million cheap computers for both the domestic and international markets (no time frame), starting in early 2009. Those computers that will make it to Portuguese kiddies, will be made available under the e-Escolas (e-Schools) programme.

Mr. Guilherme Pinto, Mayor of Matosinhos, was quoted by Lusa (the Portuguese state’s news agency) as having made the quick witted and remarkably insightful remark: “This unit represents a major revolution in our council. We’ve gone from canneries to high-tech computer industry”.

That’s good, as we’d rather give our kids laptops than canned sardines.

The official announcement will be made tomorrow at noon in an event in Lisbon and Intel’s very own ambassador-errant Craig Barrett will be the herald of the good tidings. We don’t know whether he’ll be riding in on horseback, but we guess not.

On a domestic level, this announcement comes none-too-soon as Portugal faces one of its grimmest economic scenarios and the 1000-job “high-tech” facility will most definitely boost the government’s image and the local economy – as well as generating some kick-backs education-wise (or so they hope).

Truth be told- in the IT department - the Portuguese government has done well of late when it comes to providing tech tools to students. By heavily subsidising the purchase of lappies by students (K12 education) and college students (those get less of a deal, as it’s basically a VAT-discounted laptop). For instance, K12 students or teachers can buy a decent laptop and mobile internet access for just €150 plus a monthly fee for data starting at just €15 (this includes the HSDPA USB pen but there's a 36 month contract in it somewhere).

Only kindergarten kids were missing out on cheap computers... until now, that is. µ


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