Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Wal-Mart strikes: How can anyone compete against the behemoth?

Ambivalence strikes... and Wal-Mart is marketing a fully capable laptop (software included) for under $500. How can anyone compete?

Techspot reports:
Laptop sales are rising, and prices falling - and why not? With the price of a low end notebook now only marginally higher than a top of the range PDA, many people who might not have thought about a laptop in the past are now seriously considering them. Now, if only the price could be even lower...
And, CNet News tells us:
Walmart.com and Linspire on Monday unveiled a Linux-based laptop priced at $498.

The computer, dubbed Balance, comes loaded with the Linspire operating system and the OpenOffice.org office suite, the companies said.

The companies said Balance is the lowest-priced laptop currently available with an operating system and an office suite. It features a VIA C3 1-GHz processor, 128MB RAM, a 30GB hard drive, a CD-ROM drive and a 14.1-inch liquid crystal display. The software includes a built-in firewall to protect users from viruses, spam and pop-ups.
This little attack from the behemoth has been noted by many. Notes Forbes:
Attention Wal-Mart shoppers: There's a new laptop available and it’s cheap, really cheap. Working with operating system vendor Linspire--helmed by former mp3.com founder and former member of our list of the 400 richest Americans, Michael Robertson--mega-retailer Wal-Mart Stores (nyse: WMT - news - people ) has introduced the $498 Balance laptop. The machine is the lowest priced laptop to include an operating system and an office suite, far cheaper than notebooks from companies such as Dell (nasdaq: DELL - news - people ) and Hewlett-Packard (nyse: HPQ - news - people ). Unlike traditional systems such as Microsoft (nasdaq: MSFT - news - people )'s Windows and Apple Computer (nasdaq: AAPL - news - people )'s OSX, the Balance runs on Linspire's self-named Linux-based platform. As if the notorious Linux wasn't a sharp enough thorn for Bill Gates, the Balance's office suite is fully compatible with Microsoft file types. With its combination of compatibility and ease of use, complimented by Wal-Mart's market reach, the Balance will attempt to sway consumers from higher-priced traditional computing to a more affordable option. The task is daunting, but the price tag surely helps.
Who would buy this little computer; who would succomb to Wal-Mart's undercutting efforts? Well, aside from me? LinuxInsider suggests:
The laptop is being marketed as an affordable, easy-to-use home machine and should appeal to lower-income households, students and people who would previously not have considered a laptop.

To broaden its appeal, the company has also suggested that it is "perfect for use as a second or third home machine."
I'll take four, please, and start my own Linux local area network!

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