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Ubuntu-based netbook hits South Africa at $188

Oct 20, 2011 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 5 views

Vodacom announced an Ubuntu Linux-based netbook for the developing world, to be initially be launched in South Africa for $188. The Vodafone Webbook offers a 10-inch screen, 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage, a Vodacom SIM card slot, and a weight less than 2.2 pounds, says the mobile provider.

Vodacom, the African subsidiary of Vodafone, will begin selling the Vodafone Webbook in October; the decice could turn up in other emerging, price-sensitive markets too. Relatively few details are available on the netbook, but at a prepaid price of $1,499 Rand ($188) without cellular modem, there are likely few features to discuss anyway.

Adding a modem, SIM card, and 100MB of data per month for 12 months brings the price up to R1899 ($238), says Vodacom. There's also a monthly option of R189 ($24) with a two-year contract.

Vodafone Webbook

The Webbook offers a 10-inch LCD screen, 512MB of memory, and 4GB of storage space, says Vodacom. The netbook will ship with Ubuntu Linux, preinstalled software applications, free software updates, and a 24-month warranty, says the mobile provider. No other features are listed on the device, which presumably offers Wi-Fi.

According to Engadget, the Webbook will run the latest Ubuntu 11.10 release on a Cortex A8-based Freescale i.MX51 processor, which can clock at up to 1GHz. No other details appear to be available, and the netbook's manufacturer was not stated.

This is one of several South African netbook partnerships Ubuntu sponsor Canonical has entered into over the last several years — not surprising considering founder Mark Shuttleworth is a South African. 

In March 2010, Canonical, IBM, and Simmtronics announced an Intel Atom-based, 10.1-inch netbook called the Simmbook (pictured at right), priced at $190. Built by Simmtronics, the Simmbook was preloaded with the IBM Client for Smart Work Linux distro, based on Ubuntu Netbook Remix.

In May of that year, Canonical teamed up with Vodacom to announce the Ubuntu-based Linkbook (pictured at left), which was developed by a South African company of the same name.

The Linkbook's processor was not listed, but it was rumored to be a Motorola-derived PowerPC chip. Equipped with 16GB of flash storage, the Linkbook offered Vodacom's HSDPA service, Wi-Fi, two USB ports, and an 8.9-inch display, says Vodacom. The netbook was available at 199 Rand (R199), or about $26 a month with a two-year contract.

Stated Chris Ross, Managing Executive: Commercial Development, at Vodacom, "The Vodafone Webbook is going to offer the end user a compelling, mobile or at-home computing experience at an affordable price. We think this device is going to be particularly important and attractive for the emerging market."

Stated Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth, "We are delighted to provide the operating system for the Vodafone Webbook. Ubuntu's founding principle is to remove the barriers of access to computing for everyone, and products like this give hope of connectivity to people all over the world."


The Vodafone Webbook will be available at Vodacom World and will be available for order at all participating outlets in South Africa starting Oct. 19, says Vodacom. The netbook will be available for $1,499 Rand ($188) without cellular modem, including VAT. With a modem, SIM card, and 100MB of data per month for 12 months, the price is R1899 ($238), including VAT. There's also a monthly option of R189 ($24) with a two-year contract.

More information may be found in this Vodacom Vodafone Webbook announcement.

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