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Intel Designing PCs for India's Rural Poor

U.S. chip maker Intel Corp. will design cheaper computers to be made by manufacturers in India for the country's rural poor.

(New Delhi) U.S. chip maker Intel Corp. will design cheaper computers to be made by manufacturers in India for the country's rural poor, company officials said Tuesday.

Sales of low-cost personal computers will begin in two months, Amar Babu, Intel's Managing Director for South Asia, was quoted as saying by Dow Jones Newswires.

Cheaper notebook computers will be available in the first half of 2007, Intel President and Chief Executive Paul Otellini was separately quoted as saying.

India's cheapest desktops currently cost nearly 10,000 rupees (US$225; euro176).

"We want to make personal computers more cost-effective," Otellini told reporters in the southern city of Bangalore. "These personal computers (desktops) will be priced 20 percent less than the (current) lowest-priced Intel-based personal computers in India with similar features."

He said he expects the notebooks, to be aimed for use by schools, to retail at around 18,000 rupees (US$410, euro320). The cheapest notebook in India currently costs nearly 30,000 rupees (US$680, euro530).

India has one of the world's fastest-growing economies and is becoming an international technology center, but vast parts of the country still languish in desperate poverty.

Even the cheaper computers could still seem prohibitively expensive for millions in Indian villages, where their prices are roughly equal to a year's earnings.

The World Bank says more than 30 per cent of India's more than 1 billion people live on less than US$1 (less than euro1) a day. The annual per capita income is US$530 (euro414).

Local manufacturers like Wipro Ltd., HCL Infosystems and Zenith Computers will make the Intel-designed desktops, Otellini said. The companies already manufacture Intel-powered computers.

The desktop computers are aimed at boosting sales in the rural markets, said Babu. He wouldn't disclose any sales targets or other financial details.

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