Gartner: $100 laptop three years away

The milestone price of $100 (50) for a laptop isn't likely within the next three years, according to analyst house Gartner.

That goal was originally set by the One Laptop Per Child foundation, which designs cheap devices for educational use around the world. It has yet to create a $100 laptop; it released the XO for about $200 last year. OLPC has said its next version will cost $75, and claimed the price could fall to $20.

The XO device has spurred a move by the rest of the industry lead by Asus with its Eee PC to create cheaper devices, which have gone on sale here in the UK instead of just in emerging markets for which the XO was designed.

Gartner noted that all current low-cost, mini-notebooks cost significantly more than $100 and said it does not expect prices to fall for at least three years - despite OLPC's claim.

The increase in demand for cheap laptops paired with falling costs for components could mean mini-laptops fall in price by 10 to 15 per cent over that time period, but other costs such as assembly and software are likely to stay the same.

However, Gartner warned that price isn't the only issue or indeed the most important one. "The economic benefits of IT literacy in emerging markets are currently driving the push for the $100 PC but there are many open questions that remain," said Annette Jump, research director at Gartner.

"These include determining the relevant hardware specifications, power availability, availability and cost of internet connection, as well as providing adequate finance and payment options for emerging markets where funds may well be extremely limited," she added.

Here in the UK and in other mature markets, the mini-notebooks have already seen success. But Jump said they must be seen as mobile devices instead of solely as computers in order to continue to move into consumer and business areas. "Mini-notebooks will create opportunities to reach many buyers across all regions, both in mature markets as additional devices, and in emerging markets as PCs," said Jump.