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, firstname.lastname@example.org
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 :))