May 19, 2009

Dell Unveils New Netbook Geared Towards Students

Dell Inc., currently the leading seller of PCs to schools globally, is looking to expand its lead with its "netbook" intended for students at a time when consumers and corporations have had to reduce spending.

The Latitude 2100, being shown Tuesday in Australia for the first time, is part of a trend: the less expensive, smaller, and lighter laptop.

Different from Dell's other netbooks, the 2100's cover is made from rubber, not hard plastic. There are no vents under it, making it more resilient to damage. There is also a light on the lid that shows teachers when kids are on the Internet.

It is unknown as to how they will develop academic performance, but Dell Chief Executive Michael Dell, insists that computers in classrooms are vital to a better education.

"There's no question that technology can play a role in improving outcomes for students," Michael Dell said in an interview. "This is not to say that putting computers and (information technology) systems in schools solves all problems - there's no chance of that. But it is to say that, look, these are required skills that people need to be successful."

The 2100 is equipped with a 10-inch screen and a larger keyboard. It is available with a touch screen and an anti-microbial keyboard. The netbook can run Microsoft Corp.'s Windows XP, Vista systems and the Ubuntu edition of Linux.

The netbook begins at $369. With additional popular features the cost is closer to $500. David Daoud, an analyst for IDC, said schools typically argue for $100 less per machine.

Dell makes about $14 billion annually, 23% of Dell's 2008 revenue, from selling computers to students.

PCs for schools are only 6% of the total shipped in 2008, states IDC, with a third headed towards the U.S. Worldwide. Dell is the worldwide leader with 20% of the market. In the U.S., they also lead with 36% for kindergarten through 12th grade as well as 43% from colleges.


On the Net: