At Comdex/Spring in Chicago, Microworkz rolled out its Webzter line of stripped down, Internet ready PCs.
The systems, first announced in March, started shipping on Monday. The cheapest model, the Webzter Jr PC, will sell for $299.
For that price, users will have to miss such features as a floppy drive and a CD-Rom. But they will get a machine equipped with a 300MHz Cyrix MII processor, 32Mbyte of Ram and a 56Kbps modem. The system will also come with the Corel Wordperfect suite and one year's free Internet access with ISP Earthlink, valued at $240.
The Webzter's keyboard has 19 special buttons that lead directly to such applications as email and Internet search engines.
Microworkz is also launching a $499 and a $699 model of the Webzter. These will have faster processors and will sport floppy and CD drives. The company said it will manufacture the systems in the United States, at a plant in the Seattle area.
"Yes, we can make a profit on $299 PCs," assured Microworkz president Rick Latman. He said the Webzter should be considered an Internet appliance.
Latman said Microwerkz will initially produce 100,000 of its Webzters each month. In the third quarter alone, Latman hopes to produce and sell 500,000. This should make Microwerkz the number three vendor in the US retail PC market, Latman claimed, ahead of eMachines.
eMachines, of Fremont, California, is a joint venture between Korean PC manufacturer Trigem and monitor maker Korea Data Systems. It came from nowhere last year to become the number four PC vendor in the US retail market, thanks to the popularity of its PCs priced $399 and $499.(see Newswire 22 December) Analysts have questioned eMachines ability to make a profit on its $399 systems.
Microworkz is a privately held company based in Seattle. The company started in 1991 as a software vendor. Latman said the company has no plans to expand into Europe. "There's plenty of market for us in America," he said.
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