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Outlook still murky for $150 Medison laptop

Medision answers some questions about its $150 laptop. Yet after reading accounts of the exchange, we have no better feeling on whether this operation is legitimate, fraudulent, or a misdirected publicity stunt.

Computer Sweden

Responding to cries that its $150 Linux laptop is at best vaporware or, worse, a scam, Medison held a press conference last week at a Stockholm Hilton where it answered some, but not all, questions posed to it by the Swedish press, including Computer Sweden. After reading accounts of the exchange, I have no better feeling on whether this operation is legitimate, fraudulent, or a misdirected publicity stunt.

The only useful piece of information to come out the press conference was the promise that the company would start shipping its Medison Celebrity laptops around August 15. I placed my order on July 25, so I'm giving the company until September 5 to deliver, which is the far end of its original four- to six-week estimate.

The company did have what looks like a working unit on display for all to see, but the company's managing director, Valdi Ivancic, didn't answer questions about who would be manufacturing the Medison Celebrity laptop, other than to say the company has an assembly plant in Brazil with plans for new plants in Central America and Europe. Impressive: expansion plans before the first Celebrity laptop rolls off the assembly line.

Ivancic explained that Medison plans to make more money from accessory makers advertising on its site than from sales of the $150 laptop itself. He said that shipping is not included in the price of the laptop, which is odd, since shipping charges weren't added or even estimated when I placed my order. Then again, my account has yet to be charged. Still, I'd like the chance to agree to the shipping charges before they're applied and the laptop ships. Support is also a question mark; Ivancic said he's talking with a company called InfoCare.

Now I'm no Scandinavian entrepreneur, but it would seem to be that one ought to figure out how to ship and support a product before you begin taking orders. Being able to share these details at a press conference of your own arranging would go a long way to assure the public that you are running a legitimate business. Instead, Ivancic's exchange with journalists lacked details, but did include this gem:

Journalist: Will you sink or swim with this?
Ivancic: No, we won't.

Before the press conference ended, Ivancic steered the proceedings into the realm of the bizarre by mentioning that he may run for prime minister. My $150 and I are hoping that it's hard to launch a successful campaign for prime minister of Sweden on the heels of an Internet laptop scam. If my Medison Celebrity shows up by September 5, Ivancic can count on my vote.