Neo Explore and the Challenge of Selling Laptops to Kids
When Intel dropped out of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Project, it immediately went to work on it’s own Intel-powered version of the XO, the ClassMate PC. Just recently, Intel partnered with Neo to commercially launch the Neo Explore X1, a cheap laptop targeted to kids. The challenge though is obvious — how to sell them to their target market.
Unlike the Asus Eee PC which has positioned itself as the ultimate UMPC for laptop seekers looking into cheaper alternatives, the Neo is carving a smaller niche by designing their laptops to be kid-friendly.
First off, the Neo Explore looks like it’s packed a little better than the Asus Eee PC — has a 30GB HDD and a 6-cell battery. It doesn’t have the webcam though and it weighs heavier than the Eee PC (~1.45Kg vs. ~0.9Kg). The Windows XP Starter Edition is also built in for the street price of just under Php17k.
Photo borrowed from Migs.
But here lies the challenge:
- The art of selling to kids is a huge challenge because the design is a major factor. The Neo Explore definitely gives that impression — that it’s a laptop for kids. (I hope there’s pink for girls and blue for boys.) In effect, Neo has written off the serious or mature laptop buyers. and are now left with moms and pops.
- As a UMPC, the Neo Explore is top notch because it’s cheap. As a kids toy, it’s pretty damn expensive. The worry is that moms and pops will think of this machine as more of an expensive kid’s toy than an educational laptop.
- Educational materials for kids almost always comes in a CD/DVD. This one doesn’t have one. Good thing external CD/DVDs are cheaper nowadays. Last time I checked, they’re between php3k to Php6k, depending on the make and model.
- Small is cool, if you really want the size to be smaller. I’m not sure if kids will appreciate the screen size or if the softwares and educational games will adopt to the native 800×480 screen real estate. I installed the Nokia PC Suite on my Asus Eee PC and could not use the software at 800×480 — I had to switch to the virtual 800×600 screen and scroll up and down just to get to the buttons in the app window.
Fortunately, the Neo Explore X1 is alone in the kids’ market so other potential competitors like the MSI Wind PC, the 10-inch Eee PC and the ECS G10IL are not a serious threat. They just have to make sure that they also offer extended warranties for those tinkering type of kids.