Last week, Intel CEO Paul Otellini stated that touchscreen laptops could reach the $200 price point in the coming months, but he wasn’t very specific on which operating systems those machines would run. It seems we now have an answer. A CNET interview with Intel’s chief product office Dadi Perlmutter has revealed that these $200 touchscreen notebooks would mostly be running Android, and would utilize Intel’s low-power Atom processor.
The revelation isn’t exactly a big surprise. The Android operating system is open-source and free for any manufacturer to use. Most of the cost of manufacturing an Android device comes from parts. For a device running Windows 8, however, a manufacturer must pay Microsoft a fee to license the operating system for each device.
That license usually costs $130, but was recently discounted to $30 for manufacturers building touchscreen notebooks.
Does Perlmutter believe that touchscreen Windows 8 notebooks can reach that $200 price point? He didn’t seem all that confident about it.
“We have a good technology that enables a very cost-effective price point,” Perlmutter said. The price of Windows 8 laptops “depends on how Microsoft prices Windows 8. It may be a slightly higher price point.”
I, for one, welcome the sudden interest in touchscreen Android notebooks. These devices approach the hybrid laptop/touch device dilemma a bit differently than Windows 8 machines. While Microsoft took a keyboard-and-mouse-based operating system and tried to add touch elements to it, Android has been all about touch since the day it was born.
Taking a good touch OS and adding traditional desktop computing elements to it seems less complicated. I’d rather have a great touchscreen device that functions as a basic laptop than a great laptop that tries to do too much, but that’s just me.
Can touchscreen Android notebooks get down to that $200 price point and be useful? We’ll have to wait a couple of months to find out.