Saturday, February 03, 2007

the next billion users

Fascinating story in Newsweek on an Indian entrepeneur Rajesh Jain (39) whose products could literally re-design the computer. Or perhaps more likely bring the growing middle classes of the rising East (like India) who nevertheless are still too poor for traditional desktop or laptop PCs into the information revolution.

From the article:
Despite the country's [India'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.
One of his products, NetTV simply plugs in with a keyboard through the TV. Web-hosted software is the name of the game for Jain as well as Google. Web-hosted software, could conceivably, move computing away from models bought with pre-packaged software. As TV moves to the internet and computing could move to web-hosted soft and shareware things could get really interesting.

Jain's approach is from the get go profit-seeking while wanting to serve. He isn't taking government funding which should warm the cuckolds of free marketers everywhere. The key ingredient is the creation of networks. The model can only work for now in already networked areas--from there perhaps the creation of wealth through information creation could then spread out to the rural areas. Until then, approaches such as Nicholas Negroponte's XO, government, corporate, NGO sponsorship giveaways is the route for rural connection.

Like I said, totally fascinating.

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