Everex has released a desktop PC through Wal-Mart that might set a new price floor for the computer industry -- $199. The machine is attracting attention not only because of its price, but also because of its use of the open-source Linux operating system and a truckload of free applications -- many of them from Google.
While the price of the Everex Green gPC TC2502 does not include a monitor, it does include nearly every software application that an ordinary consumer user might need.
These include links to Google Docs & Spreadsheet, Google Product Search, Blogger, YouTube, and Google Maps, plus desktop apps such as Gimp for image editing, Xing for playing movies, Skype for voice chats, OpenOffice.org 2.2 for document editing, and an iTunes-like RhythmBox for playing tunes.
A spokesperson for Everex told news media that the company can provide a savings for users of up to 95 percent through open-source software, and that it expects to have about 20,000 gPCs out this quarter. Although some observers might tag the new machine as a Google PC, Everex said that the product is independent of the search giant.
The "g" in gPC stands for green, not specifically for Google, because it is an energy-efficient device. But it also stands for gOS, an Ubuntu Linux 7.1 desktop that uses the Enlightenment window manger. gOS is a company that describes itself as "an alternative OS with Google Apps and other Web 2.0 apps for the masses."
The machine features a 1.5-GHz Via C7-D processor and chipsets, 512 MB of SDRAM (expandable to 2 GB), an 80-GB hard drive, a DVD/CD-RW drive, and built-in 10/100 Ethernet. It also comes with free phone support.
"It's definitely an eye-catcher," said Doug Bell, an analyst with industry research firm IDC. He said that it could grab the attention of consumers who are price-sensitive, such as the typical Wal-Mart shopper. Some other observers are suggesting it could attract technically inclined experimenters because it is inexpensive enough to be taken apart or adapted for a variety of uses.
Could Redefine Pricing?
For the cost-conscious consumer, Bell said, the challenge is whether the non-Windows interface will be a hurdle, even with Enlightenment. Senior citizens, for instance, are a key target market, and might already be familiar with a Windows environment. "But if the owner is only using a few apps," he said, the gPC might be a good fit.
According to news reports, the machine might also be intended for those unaccustomed to computer shopping. The reports indicated that the motherboard is actually quite small, but the gPC was put into a relatively large plastic case because shoppers at Wal-Mart equate size with capabilities.
But, regardless of its size, the gPC might indicate the future. Bell noted that the Everex machine could point toward a new price point for desktop machines, even without the monitor. He said that an energy-efficient chip, free apps, and an open-source OS add up to "a lot of positives" -- and possibly show where Linux on the desktop is headed.