The $100 laptop is a great initiative designed to make
computers affordable to developing countries. In order to make this initiative viable there
has got to be significant volume which I’m not sure developing countries can
sustain. The question is: Why wouldn’t
the manufacturer also offer this computer in Europe of North America? There are a lot of people in these countries
that can’t afford a computer and would jump at the chance to purchase a $100
laptop. There are also a lot of people
that don’t need a lot of computing power and use it mainly to surf the Internet
Every day more and more processing is done via the web
rather than on the computer. Reminds me
of the old mainframe days when everyone had a “dumb” terminal at their desk. There are a significant number of people that want
something similar to a “dumb” terminal which would allow them to quickly and easily
access the Internet. I would personally
buy one if the price was right (i.e. $100) because there are numerous times
either my wife or I want to search the Internet for something. Since both of us use our laptops for business,
we want to keep it out of the way so it doesn’t get damaged. Also, it takes 10 minutes to boot up my
computer. I’m too impatient to wait.
An expensive “dumb” terminal that only allows me to access
the Internet would be perfect. Since the
device would be have limited features, boot up time should be instantaneous. Access to the Internet would never be more
than seconds away.
I recently had a discussion with a technical architect from
a fortune 500 technology firm. He does
not buy into the thin client concept because he believes the technology is not
good enough. His firm also makes a lot
of money from PC sales so that might also have something to do with it. Back to his original point. Good enough is a relative term and means
different things to different people. Big
firms have a terrible time managing disruptive technology because they believe it
has to be a Cadillac out of the gate.
Disruptive technology rarely starts out high end.
I believe it is a matter of time before an Internet only
computer takes off. Here is my
prediction of how it will materialize.
The technology will be adopted in developing countries as well as consumers
in Europe and
computer – no painful operating system to load, no upgrade hassles, and they
can turn it on in seconds. With a low
price point, they will be less concerned about damaging it so it will be in
places such as the kitchen which often spelled disaster for laptops.
In the mean time, more and more on-demand software (aka
SaaS) will become available and Internet access will be faster and more available
and reliable. Most consumers work and
some will start using these inexpensive devices at their business. Initially, SMB office workers (people that don’t
travel) will use the device because it is not only inexpensive to buy, but it
is also inexpensive to maintain. Less
complexity equals less cost to operate. As
on-demand software and Internet access continues to improve, other employees
will adopt these devices. As the eco
system becomes more reliable, bigger firms will start using the devices because
of the significant cost savings without the drop in productivity. Power users would be the last group to adopt
if they adopt at all.
The point is there are a significant number of people that
are over served with today’s PCs and software. There are a lot of low tech people out there
that just need to do a few basic things. If they can save hundreds or even thousands,
scores of people will adopt this technology.