(Adds details about sales schedule, contribution breakdown)
By Daisuke Wakabayashi
SEATTLE, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Dell Inc DELL.O and Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) are teaming up to release a Product Red computer, donating up to $80 for every one sold to fund AIDS-fighting drugs in Africa.
Dell will start selling two (Red) laptops and one desktop running Microsoft Windows Vista on Friday. The two companies will donate $50 for a laptop and $80 for a desktop to the Global Fund, which finances health programs in Africa.
(Red), founded by U2 singer Bono and Bobby Shriver, works to develop co-branded products with companies such as Motorola Inc MOT.N, Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and Gap Inc (GPS.N), which then donate a portion of the proceeds for antiretroviral drugs.
Microsoft said it expects “several hundred thousand” (Red) Dell PCs to be sold in 2008. The PCs, designed in part by Bono, will have a distinctive red casing and the Windows interface will feature a red background and sidebar.
“My job is to put some poetry in the machine, put some funk in the machines,” Bono said in an interview with Reuters.
(Red) has raised $53 million for the Global Fund since it was founded in 2006. Bono, who expects to exceed that figure in 2008 alone, said the organization lost some potential partners after a critical article in Advertising Age questioned the effectiveness of the campaign.
Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, who provided some of the seed money for (Red), defended the group, saying it has saved lives that would have otherwise been lost.
“I guess you can criticize even life-saving activities. I don’t know how, but if somebody has a better idea than (Red) to save more lives, we are all ears,” said Gates in an interview. “I put it in the category of a creative use of capitalism.”
Gates, Dell and Bono are expected to announce the partnership formally this week at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
The Dell products offered under the (Red) brand will be a XPS One desktop and XPS M1330 and M1530 laptop computers. The products will sell for the same price as regular Dell models.
The computers will go on sale Jan. 25 in the U.S. and then the product will be available in 30 countries on Jan 31. (Reporting by Daisuke Wakabayashi; Editing by Valerie Lee, Paul Bolding)