The real scoop on the first Android netbook

The speculation is over. Computerword reports that Skytone, a Chinese firm that set off a blogger firestorm when it published specs for the first-ever Google Android-based netbook, expects to ship the Alpha 680 netbook within three months at a price of just $250.

That's a far cry from the $100 price bandied about originally, but still well below the $300 to $500 price of today's netbooks, which primarily run Windows XP on the Intel Atom processor. Based on the ARM11 chip, the netbook isn't the most high-powered or high-featured. For example, battery life is nothing to write home about: just two to four hours while surfing the Web via Wi-Fi or 3G. Still it's enough for Skytone's target market, which is the 80% of the world--including villagers in Africa or farmers in China--who can't afford today's current crop of PCs. As Skytone cofounder Nixon Wu says:

"Watching TV over the Internet is not the most urgent thing for them."

Wu also said he hopes that the more Android netbooks he--and other vendors--sell, the more the price will come down, eventually to the $100 range. And that's a price point that could very well leave Microsoft out of the netbook running, even with its stunted Windows 7 Starter initiative.

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