Archos to pip Apple with launch of an Android-powered mini PC

26 Mar 2009

Archos, the company behind the sought-after MP4 media player devices and an arch competitor of the iPod, is planning to release its own ultra-portable PC device in the third quarter, with Google’s Android as the operating system (OS).

The move highlights a major gap in the market that even Apple with its iPhone OS has so far failed to exploit.

The managing director of Archos Europe, Tony Limrick, told “This is an area we strongly believe we have a role to play in. We recently launched the Archos 5 media tablet, which is probably the fastest media device for Wi-Fi and gives users a full internet experience.

“97pc of video on the web is flash, and therefore we can compete against the mobile handset manufacturers.

“We’ve looked at the market and the key to our future is to provide users with an internet experience superior to any other mobile device out there.”

Limrick spoke with from the the ACE UnConference which took place in Derry yesterday.

Limrick said that in January the company released its first netbook, the Archos 10 (pictured), which featured the Intel Atom CPU, a 10.2-inch screen, 1GB of RAM and a 160GB hard drive.

“In the third and fourth quarter we will be launching internet media devices that will be based on Google’s Android technology.”

Limrick wouldn’t reveal too many details about the new device, but emphasised screen quality, size and ultra-portability as factors.

“If you look at internet media devices and take the voice element of phones out, the iPod touch is the only product that competes with Archos in the market, and the Archos 5’s functionality is so much better than the iPod Touch.

“In terms of the forthcoming ultra-mobile PC, we are not releasing the final specifications, except we will be incorporating Google Android into one very smart piece of kit.”

He said that a number of major PC retailers, including Carphone Warehouse, have expressed an interest in the forthcoming device.

Asked if mobile operators will also be selling the product, Limrick said it is early days. “There are many ways to build a business model around this. Suffice to say that in terms of Archos focusing on being a world-beating multimedia player that develops and envelopes convergent technologies in a way that consumers want, that won’t change.

“It has been our golden rule that convergence does not lead to compromise. From a personal point of view, the smart phone may give me the internet, but it doesn’t converge with other technologies without some compromise. In the ultra-mobile future, there should be no compromises,” Limrick said.

By John Kennedy

Pictured: the Archos 10, Archos’ first netbook, which was released in January