While mainstream netbooks like the Asus Eee PC, MSI Wind, and Dell Inspiron Mini continue to capture the imagination (and cash) of consumers, it’s nice to see that low cost laptops are also fulfilling one of their original purposes, and getting into the hands of children in developing countries. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez this weekend announced that his country would purchase a million laptops from Portugal. The laptops are based on Intel’s Classmate PC design.
The exact price hasn’t been disclosed, but each laptop costs “several hundred dollars,” which is far less than the cost of a conventional laptop computer.
The government of Portugal will also be manufacturing half a million Classmate PC-based netbooks for schoolchildren in its owwn country.
As Ars Technica points out, Venezuela’s order is not only the largest single purchase of Classmate PCs to date, the entire OLPC project has yet to sell a million laptops. While the OLPC XO Laptop may have gotten the ball rolling on low cost laptops, it hasn’t proved as popular as the Intel-based Classmate which is capable of running Windows XP. It should be interesting to see if OLPC sales pick up now that the XO Laptop can also run Windows by booting from an SD card.