AbiWord in $98 laptop--How to reach new users?

From: Amos Batto <amosbatto_at_yahoo.com>
Date: Sun Nov 09 2008 - 21:10:00 CET

I came across a video of a trade show showing off the HiVision Think miniNote, a tiny laptop (aka, "netbook") from China which is being sold for roughly $120. According to the representative, another version with a different chipset will start production in October 2008 and will be available for only $98. It would seem that the OLPC has lost the race for the first $100 laptop.

The specs:
Name: Think miniNote
Model: PWS700A/PWS700B
CPU: 400 Mhz MIPS 32 bit processor
RAM: 128MB/64MB
NAND Flash: 1GB
OS: Linux or WinCE
Display: 7" WVGA 800x480
Network: Wireless Lan 802.11b/g
            10/100Mbits Ethernet controller
Ports: 3 USB
            Audio in/out
            SDHC Card Reader
(The representative in the video doesn't say what brand of processor, but the text with the video speculates that it might be a Longsoon or Ingenic.)

Watch the video at:

In the video you can see the $120 version running an unnamed version of GNU/Linux produced in China. The representative says that 10,000 have already been produced and they are "ready for big orders". She also shows off a prototype of the $98 version, but it is not turned on, so it probably wasn't fully functioning at the time of the trade show. The Think MiniNote looks like a kid's toy, but the video shows that it runs a complete GNU/Linux system like the Asus eeePC and other netbooks. In the main menu, the video shows an application called Xip Word, but when the guy clicks on "Xip Word", AbiWord 2.4 opens up, even displaying the AbiWord splash screen.

In is kind of sad that some Chinese company would decide to rebrand AbiWord as their own, but didn't have the technical skill (or possibly the time) to figure out how to change the name. Fortunately their lack of technical skill means that you guys still get the credit. More importantly, anyone using "Xip Word" will still be able to go to the Help menu and find the AbiWord website if they are looking for more information. I just wish that they had used version 2.6 of AbiWord since this is supposed to be a "Netbook" which people will purportedly use for online collaboration.

I checked out the HiVision website at http://hvsco.com/cpzs.asp. They make a whole raft of NetBooks based on the Via C7-M chip, but there was no information about the MIPS-based miniNote. I searched around on the web and found that a number of Chinese NetBooks are now using "Xip Word". I don't know if all of them are made by HiVision and rebranded with another company's name or if there are several ODM's using "Xip Word". For instance, the website for the CnM Lifestyle miniBook 7 ( says:

"With Xip Word and Spreadsheet packages, you can create and edit documents and spreadsheets on the go making this the perfect lightweight road warrior."

One of the reviews for the miniBook says that "The word processing and spreadsheet programs, Xip Word and Xip Table are based on the very popular freeware OpenOffice program". (http://dieseltekk.blogspot.com/2008/10/review-cnm-lifestyle-minibook-7.html) Since the reviewer called OpenOffice "freeware", I figured that he didn't know what he was talking about and had probably confused OpenOffice Writer and AbiWord. Sure enough the miniBook user manual says:

Now, you have a general idea about how to use Xip Word. Xip Word is used basically the same as Microsoft Word. If you are a Microsoft Word user, you will get familiar with Xip Word soon.
For more information about Xip Word, please visit http://www.abisource.com.


I had to laugh. The makers of the miniBook didn't even to pretend to support "Xip Word" and just sent people to the AbiWord website. Still, you guys should be proud that you are helping to revolutionize computing and lower the costs so a much greater portion of the globe can enjoy its benefits. Now that computers are becoming $100 devices using processors like MIPS and ARM, AbiWord fills a niche that MS Word, WordPerfect and OpenOffice Writer are too bloated to reach. In the future millions of people could potentially use AbiWord in these new inexpensive netbooks.

How to reach out to these new AbiWord users?

It would be nice if AbiWord could reach out to these new users from the developing world who will be buying $100 laptops in the future. For instance, I wonder if we could redesign the abisource.com webpage so that it can be displayed in languages other than English and put out a call for people to translate the help files in more languages. I am part of Runasimipi.org and we would probably be willing to translate the AbiWord webpage and help files into Spanish. I have been talking to the people who are going to implement the OLPC in Peru and Bolivia and I'm sure that they would use the Spanish documentation.

--Amos Batto

Received on Sun Nov 9 21:10:45 2008

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Sun Nov 09 2008 - 21:10:45 CET