And Now $10 Laptops

I have written extensively about MIT’s Nicholas Negroponte plan of manufacturing $100 laptop and sell them to children of the countries like India and China in millions earlier. I was amazed to read a news report that Indians are aspiring to better him many times and sell similar laptops at an unbelievable price of $10, or Rs 450 each.

Indians found Negroponte’s offer of $100 (the real price was coming to $200) a little too costly. HRD and telecom ministry officials and experts from IITs and Indian Institute of Science are working for the indigenous laptop. But as reported, it will be ‘three years before the first $10 laptop comes out’.

As reported, Ashok Jhunjhunwala of IIT, Chennai, with the famous for his ‘Simputer’ had not only pointed out various problems relating to cost and technology but also offered to devise a much cheaper but equally advanced computer for schoolchildren. I wish he succeeds but does it fast enough, and like many other project it doesn’t remain only at the idea stage. And I don’t know how Bill Gates and other critics of $100 laptop would react to Ashok’s project whenever the Indian scientists and manufacturers are able to do it.

It sounds great and exciting that the taskforce has identified critical challenge areas and set up six anchor groups to be in touch with experts and remove bottlenecks. Institutions like IITs/IISc are entrusted with the task of research and development of cheap laptops. And the more interesting is its vision that wishes to produce some working device not only cheap enough, but also simple enough to be operatable by an uneducated housewife or mother. “If illiterates can handle television and other electronic equipment, why not computers? If the mother is trained, the entire family can become computer literate.”

I was recently reading about the $300 eBook devices being launched this year in September 4, 2006 issue of ‘Business World’. The whole thing appears to be very useful. With this advent of eBook Readers, pretty much the same size, slim and light, as an average paperback novel, one can store plenty of books in digital format, enlarge the text several times making it easy to read on a wide screen page by page. Further, one can plug into PC and download anything one wants, edit the text and make notes. Two devices, Hanlin V2 and V8, out of four are from the Chinese manufacturers. Sony Portable Reader PRS-500 will be half-inch thick device; weighing only250gms with a battery life of 7,500 pages turns per battery charge. After reading about the eBook readers, Ashok Jhunjhunwal’s $10 laptop proposal builds and brings in a new hope about India’s capability for digital devices for daily use.

I wish he could make it a combo with the possibilities for using the same as reader too. If these devices are not affordable by the individuals, why can’t the schools or next-door video shops give it on a cheap rental? The device may work as a common one for father, mother, and child. Every one can use the common device with the individual storage devices- the child device will have his all course books, mother’s her recipes and bank accounts, and father’s office documents and files.

PS: For more on ‘Simputer
Low cost to make $100 laptop revolutionary
Indian woman wins ‘alternative Nobels’.
Wipro buys Sweden’s Hydrauto for $31 mn
JSW Steel to invest $18 bn in 3 steel plants
M&M to acquire 67.9 pc stake in Jeco Holding
The IIT story
Microsoft and Hughes to set up rural IT kiosks
HCL launches laptops at Rs 27,000

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