The ‘affordable’ computer dream

12May05

‘Mobilis’ PC @Rs10K! Encore, Encore!. The Mobilis, a Linux based desktop is slated for launch soon – priced roughly at Rs.10000. “The “Mobilis” would cost between 10,000-12,000 rupees per piece initially but the price may come down with large volume production,” Vinay Deshpande, chairman and CEO of the Bangalore-based Encore Software, told Reuters.

Clearly, the company has concerned itself with the issue of scalability – so far so good, atleast they are talking about large volumes – making the Mobilis a ‘model’ would contribute little towards development as such – The company had launched the Simputer a while ago – while it was heralded as the ultimate ICT4D solution, it seems to have gone the ‘demo’ route (also read what happened to the Simputer to understand this better). Also here is a Simputer for idiots piece from rediff. I had also written about thinking out of the demo mode a long while ago….

However, on a more optimistic note, a PC costing less than Rs.10000 is a marvel. Combine this with efforts to provide computing in regional languages. Making technology accessible in more ways than one to those on the other side of the great digital divide – as information and communication technologies increasingly become the foundation on which our economy functions, it is no longer feasible or even commercially viable for technology providers to deny the have-nots the opportunity of being part of the new economy.

Read Rajesh Jain’s posts on the massputer where he talks about the need for IT companies to reconise the fortune at the bottom of the pyramid

It is very interesting to watch how markets move and products become cheaper and more accessible with technology – I was driving through parts of rural Maharasthra recently – and I noticed that there were villages with population figures of a few hundreds – with no basic facilities – no schools, no roads, not even a doctor or a dispensary – but many of them had an STD booth…

There is no arguing this fact (although this is one of the most disputed topics in development studies!) – technological progress must and does contribute towards development….

Remember the days when mobile phones cost a small packet – and people bought them but rarely used them (can afford the phone but can’t afford the call charges!). Why, remember a time when we had to book a trunk call and wait for hours to get through – and then pay a bomb – or wait for 11 p.m. to make use of the discounted call rates? Or when you had to apply for a land line and wait for months and even years to get a connection?

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