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The open secret behind the Cherrypal Africa, or, a brand is a promise, or, understatement by design.
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When most people in industrial countries talk about cars they talk about horsepower, torque, mostly technical details. If you need a car but can’t afford one all this technical “bragging ” details don’t matter anymore. All you want is a vehicle that drives you from point A to B, in the safest, most reliable, economically and hopefully environmentally most efficient way. What if there would be a car manufacturer with a diverse product line that also offers a very affordable car, say for $3,000 MSRP, and the only promise would be that you can drive safely from point A to B, no thrills, low fuel consumption, would you buy one?

If you are a high school or college student regardless of where you live in the world, having access to the Internet is even more important than owning a car. If you live in Africa or most other parts of the developing world the chances that you can afford a $900 laptop are very little. Is it impossible to build a $100 laptop? It’s not easy, but it is not impossible either, you will have to tackle the problem with a different approach though.

How did Cherrypal do it? It’s actually very simple. We know how to build inexpensive laptops to get access to the Internet, however, the problem in consumer electronics is that high demand for particular components drives prices up. Success is kind of counterproductive to keep prices low. That’s why we procure components for the Cherrypal Africa in a different way, we buy access inventory, overcapacity, out-of-fashion shells, shells with minor cosmetic flaws, discounted limited batches, and other high quality though discounted components and systems, package them up and sell them under the Cherrypal Africa brand. Bear with me. What this means is that 5 randomly selected people ordering a Cherrypal Africa on any given day theoretically might get 5 different systems, with different configurations. However, their “Africas” would have one particular thing in common, you can browse the Internet, actually pretty fast. Coming back to our car example, we drive you from A to B, safe and fast and efficient. In other words, what you buy for 99 bucks is Cherrypal’s promise that you will be able to browse the Internet. Give us the technical freedom to build laptops that get you from point A to B.

We soft-launched the Cherrypal Africa in November and started shipping early December. So far we got nothing but positive feedback from admittedly surprised customers. What we promised was a 7″ laptop, 400 MHz processor, 256 MB RAM, 2GM storage, and what we shipped were 10.2 inch, 1.6 GHz, 160 GB  (new) laptops.

A mistake? No, we call it understatement by design.

The marketing gurus from our parent company, Tristate, encouraged us to think outside the box, utilize our engineering talent in the best possible way. What did we learn? A brand is a promise. The Cherrypal brand promise is that you get at least or more of what we promise. So when we promise that you get a laptop with a 400 MHz processor it doesn’t mean you actually get one. When we promise that you get Windows CE it doesn’t mean that you get one either.  Most likely you get much more. What we post in our online catalog as product description are minimum technology characteristics. In other words we “meet or beat” the Cherrypal Open Store online catalog promise.  Another promise, we don’t ship any systems with Windows Vista or Windows 7.

In order to avoid any confusion, do we use XBurst processors for the Africa, yes we do, do we use ARM processors, yes we do, do we use Intel processors, yes we do, we use any proven components as long as they are inexpensive, high quality, and meet or beat our promised online product specifications, and last but not least, allow us to manufacture low energy consuming systems.

We have created a new product category for the laptop market, a product category that guarantees a particular functionality rather than technical specifications. When you buy a toaster you don’t care about what components are inside, as long as the toaster works; almost like our imaginary car manufacturer example that promises to deliver a car that drives you from A to B. The Cherrypal Africa promise is to deliver a small-screen system that enables you to browse the Internet, for 99 bucks plus shipping. That’s our promise, that’s the Cherrypal brand promise.

Coming back to supply and demand. If you can afford $290 more buy the Bing (13.3″ Intel N280 Windows XP) for US$ 389 and leave the Cherrypal Africa to those who can’t. Remember, the Bing is the thing. it’s my favorite laptop in the world!

Last but not least, the Cherrypal Africa is neither a marketing hoax nor competition to the “One Laptop Per Child” initiative,  our campaigns are very complimentary. We are proud to report that we received purchase orders from over 150 countries in the last 4 days, from some countries we didn’t even know they exist. Thousands of emails from new customers and supporters confirmed the need for the Cherrypal Africa. We are thankful for your support and grateful for the opportunity to making green computing available to everyone.

So, what’s next. Our goal for 2010 is to make our Green Maraschino Linux flavor, combined with seamlessly integrated free cloud based applications, mainstream. It will be fun, a lot of work, and will reduce the cost of laptops even further.

Happy Holidays, Max Seybold, Chairman, max@cherrypal.com

P.S.: Thank you Kathi, Alex, Lilly and Mikey, you didn’t have much of a father lately. Thank you for letting me work non-stop in the last couple of months, I will make it up, promised, (you might get a Bing for Christmas :) )

18 Comments to “The open secret behind the Cherrypal Africa, or, a brand is a promise, or, understatement by design.”

  1. gerd says:

    this is an interesting concept, but you need much more PR 2 make understand this in general public. – the idea behind is brilliant.

    could you publish some customers replies (original link sources)

    thx

    gerd

  2. RadioSilence says:

    It’s great! I’ll actually buy Africa in January.. It is ideal device for me- good for surfing, smart keyboard, nice display.. The graetest things are battery capacity and, of course, price- it is cheaper even than mobile phone. I hope ths netbook will be very popular among internet-surfers, travellers and youth.
    The only lack i see- no enough information about system, architecht, more photos, software or something…
    I’ll try to discover its benefits by myself)

  3. oana says:

    i want to buy ur cherrypal africa netbook at 99$,but i don t know from where?i need more informations please.Or if i can order from ur website.

    thank u

  4. [...] the ones available pre-built. It puts them together out of the cheapest components it can find. In this blog post, Chairman Max Seybold explains: [W]e buy access (sic) inventory, overcapacity, out-of-fashion [...]

  5. erik carlsen says:

    Congradulations it’s a good start.Low end makers of radios have been doing the same for years.
    There is a market out there.
    erik

  6. Karo says:

    Merry Christmass to you all!

    We’ve tried to buy the “Africa” netbook from the Cherrypal OpenStore to give it as a New Year gift. However, the store says that the product is currently unavailable in requested quantities (which was ONE).
    I’d like to know what was the best guesstimate when this product will be available. Does anybody know? 10-15 days would be fine.

  7. deryk barker says:

    Accordinng to the online store, the africa is available with linux as well as windows (which I will not have in the house).

    But I can’t find anyone to specify this option when ordering.

    Anyone know how to do this, I’d really like to get hold of one for my wife’s birthday (january 26).

  8. Josh Kennedy says:

    Hi,

    I hope the Africa ships with windows-xp or knoppix-adriane or VinuxCliMax.

  9. swayde says:

    I do believe that both will be delivered with the laptop. win is probably installed and linux is available on an included cd, or avalible for download. linux is always available for free, you can always choose an minimal distro and just load the drivers/programs you need.

  10. Deryk, when I emailed support, Max replied and told me that you specified which OS you wanted in the “Order Instructions” field of the order form.

    Bear in mind that if you ask for Windows, you’ll get either CE or XP depending on which version the architecture of the Africa you get supports.

    The version of Linux you get, if you ask for Linux, will be “a version of Debian”. Probably some flavor of Ubuntu.

  11. Oh, I see they’ve updated the store to differentiate the different models since I last looked. So at least the way you specify is clear now.

  12. deryk barker says:

    I see that now there are seperate entries for the Africa (linux) and Africa (windows).

    I also see, to my dismay, that the only payment method is by Western Union, who not only give you a poor exchange rate, but also charge a significant amount – roughly $19 to send the $99 + 18.whatever shipping cost.

    I’m going to have to give this more thought – the $99 africa is looking more like $150 Cdn…:-(

  13. [...] about the computer, how it was made and its relation to One Lap Top Per Child is provided at Cherrypal Blog. Also explore White African for an elaborate review including comments by some users who have [...]

  14. hari says:

    when this product will be sell in indonesia…reply please

  15. [...] Interested? Click here for a first-hand look at this awesome device! For an in-depth look at what drove the creation of the device, click here. [...]

  16. Myron says:

    Nice post. cherrypal.com deserves an oscar.

    http://targavessels.blogspot.com/

  17. indepadevak says:

    Enjoying reading the posts here, thanks.

  18. Administrator says:

    We are discussing potential distribution alliances with some interested parties in Indonesia as we speak. You may want to send us an email to green@cherrypal.com so we can keep you posted.

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