Vodacom unveils low-cost Linux netbook

The Linkbook netbook ... click for large version

Cellphone group Vodacom is making a play into the netbook market. On Tuesday, it unveiled a low-cost compact computer, the Linkbook, that it says is designed specifically to provide users, especially first-time computer buyers, with “simple and affordable Internet access”.

The Ubuntu Linux-powered laptop, which comes bundled with 300MB/month of data and which costs R199/month on a 24-month contract, features e-mail and office productivity tools. The OpenOffice suite, a free alternative to Microsoft Office, is included on the machine.

The new device will “broaden Web and computer access in emerging markets and tackle the digital divide”, Vodacom SA MD Shameel Joosub says in a statement.

“SA is a market eager for more ways to get online,” Joosub says. “We expect that the Linkbook will be particularly successful locally due to low PC penetration.”

The Linkbook has an embedded Sim card, as well as two USB ports. The 3G aerial supports high-speed downlink packet access technology, allowing for faster Web browsing.

“The cost of the actual computer to the consumer over the two-year contract period comes in at R40/month,” says Linkbook co-founder Mark Levy. “It is a massive step in the direction of the US$100 computer.”

The Linkbook supports Wi-Fi. It has 16GB of flash memory (no hard drive), an 8,9-inch TFT display and a Motorola-derivative processor.  — Staff reporter, TechCentral

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  • http://twitter.com/milosevicfritz Fritz Milosevic

    the right way to go! I have scrapped windows on the weekend and put Ubuntu Netbook remix on (10.04.) – I am excited! So far all was going well… in my mind openoffice for example has more functionality then most “normal” users will need (and that probably counts for most “pro” users as well :-)). So who needs Microsoft at home?

  • http://paulheideman.com Paul Heideman

    Great news! It’s going to be interesting to see how well it sells.

  • James Frank

    Have you ever tried to surf the internet on a netbook screen? Lets just say that the general international consensus is that the netbook is on the way out. I think the idea is in the right place but delivering an underpowered computer netbook is not the answer in my opinion.

  • http://woganmay.com/ Wogan

    @Fritz To play games, develop software (desktop and web) to reach 90%+ of the global market, do serious graphic editing, watch movies encoded in proprietary formats, and generally to use software that the rest of the world uses, as well as finding support for that software when you need it.

    ~ Wogan

  • http://woganmay.com/ Wogan

    OT: I’m not so sure it’s a good accessibility move. R200/month*24 is some serious money to pay for a 300MB data package on a feature-stripped netbook.

    R960 for that netbook, though, that’s progress. Maybe Vodacom can offer prepaid netbooks starting at R900 cash, or R50/month*24 + 5MB?

    ~ Wogan

  • Paul

    Vodacom through Ubuntu Linux & your cost effective plan, you bring power to the people.

  • http://www.trusoft.co.za Andre

    @Wogan: I only use windows to play the occasional game and to test stuff for clients who use Windows. The rest of the stuff you mention, I have been doing on Linux for close to 10 years now. I am a professional software developer and my media system is Linux based. Never had any problems with any media. As for support. I have access to more support than I had with Windows. And in many cases I got answers from the developers themselves, not a drone at a call centre. But I will admit that it is not for everyone yet. Ubuntu, Novell and others are making things easier for the average user, but if you really want to do everything on it (apart from browsing, email, office stuff), you need to be a bit more technically inclined and willing to learn. With the way that technology is heading, the Windows world (standalone desktop) is coming to an end so most of the things you mention will not be valid in the near future. Probably one of the reasons Linux-based netbooks are becoming more popular.

  • Rider Rob

    Sounds like Linux (and other ‘free’ systems) and a proper Notebook or Netbook (and external HD) are the way to go. The challenge is the price and the Networks have the cash to subsidise purchase because they make the moola from the connection. Get AGRESSIVE VC, MTN and Cell C!

  • Lemon

    R4776.00 over two years may not sound like much, but for a watered down netbook like that….mmmmmmm

  • http://woganmay.com/ Wogan

    @Andre Strictly linear progression based on the growth of Linux Desktop marketshare in the last 12 months, extrapolated, indicates that (assuming the growth in number of devices remains constant, and the competition doesn’t expand), it’ll be about 542 years before Linux hits 30% global marketshare.

    And the argument on whether or not PCs are coming to an end is incredibly open to interpretation. As cloud services grow in strength and use, so do the demands of daily computing, and the necessity for more powerful hardware in the home and office – for home, work and gaming. It can really go either way in the next 50 years.

    None of that relates back to the main topic, which is whether or not this Linkbook will make a noticeable impact in local IT literacy levels. My inclination is that it won’t.

    ~ Wogan

  • Robert

    Lolol, I can’t wait to start playing intense games and do my serious graphic editing on my 8.9 inch screen. I mean email, Internet browsing and office work is great, but EVERY South African needs to be able to play their COD4 and create… err… whatever it is that people do with Photoshop CS3.

    Sorry for flame/trolling but come on, 80% of people just wanna Facebook and send each other links to funny YouTube videos.

  • Pingback: Can OpenOffice.org regain momentum? | ZDNet

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