February 01, 2005

Argentina, yes! ...tango! Maradona! Latin america... mmm... remember?

Are they -finally, sinceresly- looking to us? Did they remember that we exist?

I knew about Mr Negroponte´s interests and concern about emerging economies since long ago, it is the bunch of first class tech corporations following him what suprises me (gladly). Hope this turns out fine and has a true good impact in our world as a whole. But... I have two questions... banging me:

1) What will be the/our governments´ (in those targeted developing countries) response to this project. (Read: will they screw this up? as it is their habit to f** up every helping hand they are given with corrupt acts and other ashaming behavours?)

2) what about software? Will we have the chance to purchase a 100-bucks PC... but will we still need a 300-bucks software license to run it?

RED HERRING | The hundred-buck PC

MIT’s Nicholas Negroponte pushes a cheap PC for the rest of the world.
January 29, 2005

The founder and chairman of the MIT Media Lab wants to create a $100 portable computer for the developing world. Nicholas Negroponte, author of Being Digital and the Wiesner Professor of Media Technology at MIT, says he has obtained promises of support from a number of major companies, including Advanced Micro Devices, Google, Motorola, Samsung, and News Corp.

The low-cost computer will have a 14-inch color screen, AMD chips, and will run Linux software, Mr. Negroponte said during an interview Friday with Red Herring at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. AMD is separately working on a cheap desktop computer for emerging markets. It will be sold to governments for wide distribution.

Mr. Negroponte and his supporters are planning to create a company that would manufacture and market the new portable PCs, with MIT as one of the stakeholders. It is unclear precisely what role the other four companies will play, although Mr. Negroponte hopes News Corp. will help with satellite capacity.

An engineering prototype is nearly ready, with alpha units expected by year’s end and real production around 18 months from now, he said. The portable PCs will be shipped directly to education ministries, with China first on the list. Only orders of 1 million or more units will be accepted.

Mr. Negroponte’s idea is to develop educational software and have the portable personal computer replace textbooks in schools in much the same way that France’s Minitel videotext terminal, which was developed by France Telecom in the 1980s, became a substitute for phone books.

Mr. Negroponte has been interested in developing computing in the developing world for some time. He and his wife have funded three schools in rural Cambodia, helping outfit them with regular laptops and broadband connections.

Major companies from Hewlett-Packard to Microsoft to Dupont, facing saturated markets in the richest industrial countries, have shown an interest in developing less expensive products to sell in low-income countries in south Asia, Africa, and Latin America.


What do you think?

4 Comments: (go down to newest )

  • Blogger kasimir-k ::

  • 2) what about software?

    "The low-cost computer ... will run Linux software"

    Which means it's free.

    7:09 PM  


  • Blogger Gisela Giardino ::

  • Thank you for the observation, K. :)

    I read it, but didn´t "realize" it. You are right. Now you got me thinking...

    What will be the reception of those computers running Linux?...

    I remmeber there was a national campaign to stop people from using illegal/cracked software -windows 98- here. So they warned small/medium size companies (which buy one license and use it in all their working stations) about inspections and penalties, yada yada...

    To hush the inevitable raising voice of the company´s owners ("We can´t pay U$S 300 for each license we need") they -the government- offered the free Linux OS option.

    You know what happenned? NOBODY turned to linux, nobody was neither prepared (knowledge and compatibility of workers and intranets), nor willing to go through such adaptative process.

    The end of the story: there were almost none inspections, because during the time to make the transition they gave before running the inspections, they came to realize that nobody have made the change.

    I can forsee a million 100$ PCs running illegal soft. At least down here... :(

    7:32 PM  


  • Blogger OldCola ::

  • Maybe, one solution consist of providing packages with already installed software: Open Office, Gimp etc, everything needed to make it useful without any need for new installations, as compatibility for existing files (doc, xls, pdf...) is available.
    And with a $100 PC I suppose it will be hard to dispose of it as a gaming platform.

    7:40 AM  


  • Blogger Antonio L ::

  • If I read and interpreted the text correctly, Mr Negroponte's interest is in developing educational software (for Linux OS in this case, obviously). In no way those low cost computers seem to have the whole population as a target. Rather just schools and universities(?).

    11:20 PM  


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