AMD to connect developing populations to the net

October 29, 2004 Chip developer AMD is developing a low-price PC for 'emerging markets' with the aim to connect 50% of the world's population to the internet by 2015. Despite the massive changes rolling out in the digital world, most statistics put the current online population at only 10% of the world population.

The Personal Internet Communicator (PIC) will cost approximately US $185 for just the computer, and $249 for both the computer and a 15-inch monitor and is targeted at consumers in developing countries. The effort is part of Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD) Chief Executive Officer Hector de Jesus Ruiz's "50x15" initiative, which is his plan to help connect 50 percent of the world's population to the Internet by 2015, said Dan Shine, marketing director of AMD's personal connectivity solutions group. "We want to open up the window to what HTML can offer and provide a way for people to stay in touch with family and friends."

The PIC will run on the company's own Geode x86 microprocessor, an inexpensive option usually used in smaller devices like PDA's and other handhelds. It will be small and compact - about the size of a box of tissues, and cram a 10GB hard drive, 128 MB RAM and a 56k modem. The PIC will run on a streamlined version of Microsoft Windows CE that includes some features of the Windows XP software for the PC, including Internet Explorer, MSN instant messaging and Windows Media Player.

"The performance (of a PIC machine) is very robust," said Steve Howard, an AMD spokesman. "It boots in 25 seconds, and, once loaded, the browser performance is very snappy and word processing and spreadsheet is equivalent to what you'd see in a PC today."

AMD are releasing the PIC on Oct 28 and expect it to sell initially in markets throughout Russia, India, China, Mexico and Brazil. Microsoft, Intel and other manufacturers have long sought to penetrate these developing markets and open up a consumer base. Previous attempts to crack this market, like Larry Ellison's New Internet Computer Co, which sold cheap Web surfing devices as an alternative to PC, failed to gain market acceptance, but the PIC machine has greater PC functionality and a more competitive price.

"We want to change the world," says Dan Shine, and with the PIC poised to satisfy the growing demand for affordable computing, AMD has a good chance of succeeding.

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