Sunday, November 13, 2005

Free Computers for Rural Communities and select individuals

Recent announcement of, a Hongkong based firm, unveils a very new business concept. It is planning to offer computers absolutely free for rural folks (even to NGOs, individuals, small rural companies, etc) of Latin America, China, India, Russia, Continental and Eastern Europe, South Africa, Mexico, the Philippines and West Asia.

Although it has not received media attention as expected, but I believe it will be a sensational news within few days.

First of all, is it a viable business model? Although Ms. Chen (CEO, is silent in this regard, some curious observers predicted the following.
This model could work -- but it might be difficult to attract the required sponsorship. Some Russian companies might be willing to pay up to $10 per computer annually to attract users from the targeted demographic to their sites. If could attract such companies for each of the 10 buttons, it would earn $500 over the maximum lifespan of the average PC, more than covering the cost of the lowest PCs currently on the market.
On the negative side, observers feel:
We do not see any lock-in value for the sponsor as the user may not use these keys at all. Coupled with this, the PC is connected to the internet through dial-up modems, when most of the internet connections now available operate on the broadband route.
Will it explode like 1GB free e-mail service or it busts like FreePC which attempted to distribute 10000 compaq machines in 1999?

If it succeeds, we will see radical changes in society towards computing. Which, in turn, means that we have seen only a fraction of IT revolution till date. I do hope so irrespective of practicalities.

OSP India Information Security Private Limited (OSP Global, LLC)

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