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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The 100$ Un- PC - Innovation On A Global Scale?

I was speaking to Desh Deshpande almost a week back. While taking about innovation that are happening in India, I spoke about Novatium to him, given that he knows Nicholas Negroponte and the MIT connection.I have written about Novatium in this blog earlier.On the flight to Shanghai yesterday, I read two articles on Novatium – One from Newsweek & another a reprint from Washington Post that appeared in Strait Times.

From the Newsweek article :
The NetTV, which hooks up to any television, could be the first in a family of devices that connect the next billion people to the Internet. NetTV and NetPC, a similar product that uses a normal computer monitor - both are based on cheap cell-phone chips and come without the hard-disk drive, extensive memory and prepackaged software that add hundreds of dollars to the cost of regular PCs. Instead, they are little more than a keyboard, a screen and a couple of USB ports—and use a central network server to run software applications and store data. Novatium already sells the NetPC for only $100—just within reach of India's growing middle class—and Jain believes he can soon drive the price down to $70.
Despite the country's rise as an outsourcing hub, PCs are selling slowly - far more slowly than mobile phones or motorbikes - because they are too expensive, too complicated to use and too difficult to maintain. What people have been waiting for, some experts think, is a new approach to computing that boils the essence of Internet access down to its lowest cost - and lowest risk. Jain plans to offer all this in lease deals that include easy-to-use hardware, Internet connection, application software and service - for $10 a month. This formula could provide a long-sought bridge over the digital divide - and may just change the way the average person thinks of computing. The solution would open up a huge new market for Internet service providers, starting in India but possibly spreading to other emerging markets, a possibility that is already attracting the attention of the world's biggest computer companies. It would become a target for innovation on a global scale, forged by immense competition for new customers, and that would have a big impact on the PC world in the West and it could kill the PC altogether.

I particularly liked Rajesh’s quote : "It's taken a quarter century for computer makers worldwide to get to 700 million users," he says. "The utility and network computing model can double that number in the next five years. That means there's a huge opportunity for the likes of Dell, HP, Lenovo, Intel, Microsoft and so on, and the entire existing computer value chain. But they'll have to reinvent their businesses. They have to look at an entirely different model." Some of my ex-colleagues – Alok Singh, Yuvaraj are all working to make this dream come true. Interesting to watch.

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