Intel"s low-cost PC initiative now aimed at SMEs

Von Melissa P.

After claiming success for the initial phase of the People?s PC project launched last year, Intel Microelectronics Philippines is now setting its sights on bringing this low-cost computer ownership program to the local small and medium enterprise (SME) arena.

?The program will be an extension of the success gained by the initiative,? said Ricardo Banaag, country manager of Intel Microelectronics Philippines. He refused to disclose though the total number of PCs that have been sold under the project.

The new initiative, dubbed as the ?People?s PC II,? will be spearheaded locally by Intel and the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT).

While admitting that the cost of PCs offered under the program may still ?not be ideal,? CICT chairman Virgilio Peña said the project has brought down the price to a more affordable level for the 655,000 local SMEs that represent 99.6 percent of the total companies in the country.

?One of the biggest obstacles to Internet access in the Philippines is the cost of acquiring PCs,? he noted. ?This program will prove to be significant for the majority of SMEs as well as support President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo?s 10-point agenda.?

Banaag also cited a study from IT research firm International Data Corp. (IDC) which showed that the Philippines has the third lowest SME computerization rate in the whole of Southeast Asia at 57 percent.

?This shows that unlike their counterparts in our neighboring countries, local businesses still haven?t tapped the power of technology to improve profitability,? he said.

During the program period which started last July 15 and which will run until Aug. 31 this year, SMEs within Metro Manila and surrounding areas can avail themselves of any of the three PC packages offered. The prices for these packages range from 23,430 pesos to 40,480 pesos (US$422 to $729). As in the initial phase of the project, Microsoft will be providing the software for all packages.

Intel said it is planning to make the program available nationwide by the last quarter of the year along with the possibility of including laptop computers in the offering. The company is also currently considering bundling the PCs with SME applications and solutions such as accounting, and putting in security features.

To make the PC packages even more affordable, Intel has tapped Banco de Oro (BDO) to provide low monthly installment plans for SMEs that would like to take part in the program. The payment period may be extended over six to 36 months, with the interest rate pegged at 1 percent (for BDO depositors) and 1.3 percent (for non-BDO depositors) per month. Applicants will be required to submit their business registration documents.

Banco de Oro, the private commercial bank owned by the SM Group, will also provide free family accident insurance coverage from Generali Insurance for every approved loan.

Similar Projects

Meanwhile, the procurement service division of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has already procured 5,000 PCs from the People?s PC program for its own ?PC ng Bayan? project, a low-cost computer ownership plan for government agencies and their employees.

Recently, another 5,000 units of AMD-powered PCs were bought by the division, bringing the total number to 10,000. AMD PCs are sold for 16,500 pesos each, while Intel-based PCs are sold for 16,700 pesos. Both packages come with a free Lexmark color printer.

The Development Bank of the Philippines Data Center Inc. also announced a similar People?s PC initiative named ?Kompyuter sa Bawa?t Pilipino Movement (KPM).? The project seeks to provide PCs for Filipinos on the grassroots level such as housewives, out-of-school youth, returning overseas workers and other home-based Filipinos.