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Solutions for the 3rd world that might make the 1st world jealous

Posted by johnreynolds on November 3, 2005 at 6:13 AM PST

Bruce Boyes's Blog, "The $100 PC in another guise?", and the comments that it generated got me thinking about solutions for the 3rd world that might make the 1st world jealous.

Bruce suggested (in essence) that a really cool mobile phone/PDA is more interesting than a $100 PC.
This observation prompted
Felipe Gaucho to reply:

"don´t forget about the third world... The $100 PC is a revolution in countries where expensive computers are not accessible for the most of the people. $100 PC is not only a tech stuff but it is also a social improvement in many places in the world. with "Java inside" of course :)"

Kudos for the reminder Felipe... it's easy to forget that over 60 percent of the world's population have yet to make a phone call (according to Benner-Nawman President Ed Kientz).

If we take that statistic into account and factor in Bruce's observations, then I think our goal is clearly not to get $100 PCs distributed throughout the 3rd world. If your choice was between a PC and a phone, which would you choose?

We should kill two birds with one stone, and figure out how to distribute something like a $100 version of Nokia's internet appliance, but use WiMax instead of WiFi. Add to this one WiMax access point per village, an appropriate browser-based application suite (and a willing application service provider), and I think you'll have a pretty good solution for both a cheap PC and a phone (via voice-over-IP).

If something like that was available in Kathmandu (but not here in Austin), I know I'd be jealous.

Update:03Nov2005:Here's an article on Brazil's Bumpy Road to the Low Cost PC.

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