back to article India's cheap-as-chips delayed by cash spat

Will Indians ever be able to buy a netbook for 20 quid? The nation's government still hopes so, despite binning its original offer to manufacturers to come up with one. The Indian government pitched the ultra-low cost laptop notion last year, and put the project out to tender with a view to having product ready to release by 15 …

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Bronze badge
FAIL

Perhaps...

The Indian government should have made access to clean water, power, education, healthcare and contraception the priorities before embarking on this futile project.

How on Earth did they ever think they were going to do this for £20 a piece.

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£20 does seem a bit optimistic

but if you can build a basic mobile phone, with rechargeable battery screen and keyboard, and sell it (presumably with some profit) in the UK for under £30 (as seen at http://www.reghardware.com/2010/12/03/ten_essential_cheap_voice_phones/), then why should you think that it was impossible. Also look at the 7" Android epad and apad devices that are selling on ebay presumably at a profit to the supply chain for less than £80 at the moment.

I know that the phone companies probably make a bit of a loss on the phones, hoping to recoup it from the phone charges, but I cannot believe they subsidise it by a significant amount.

I doubt that the Indian government is going to insist on a device capable of running Windows 7 with 3D high performance graphics, a multi-megapixel display and a terabyte hard disk, and they will probably drive the profit element down as far as possible. If they are assembled in India, they may also be able to fudge or hide the labour costs, in the same way that they subsidise the railways.

What do you actually need for basic web surfing, email and a bit of text processing? Probably a <500MHz ARM, 256MB memory, 2GB backing store, a basic keyboard and mouse (assuming you are not going to use a touch screen) and a display of 640x480 or so. If the web surfing is intended to be government information (voting, census, tax etc) then they can control the web content and thus the requirements of the display.

So impossible at £30, maybe not.

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Stop

Meanwhile...

For $10, the price considered reasonable for middle class Indian families to realistically have in disposable income, the computers which are filling the gap are the Chinese made Famicom knock-offs (humble 8-bitters with keyboards). TVs are ubiquitous almost everywhere, so using them as a computer display makes an awful lot of sense for most.

There's even a voluntary organisation devoted to improving the quality of software bundled with these things: http://playpower.org/

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Anonymous Coward

eBay

Maybe they should buy them on eBay, there are plenty of used machines out there.

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Anonymous Coward

Anyway...

It's not the cost of the device: that's just a start.

You could give the things away, and most people would still not be able to afford broadband connections. We have some of the most expensive bandwidth in the world.

I'm not actually convinced that access to the internet is any sort of panacea. On top of those basics like food and toilets, it seems to me that investing in schools, books and teachers would provide a much better result. Even so, I can't make sense of the fact that one of the world's poorest countries has such expensive connectivity.

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Silver badge

@Anyway

Thad - you don't understand.

The first step to becoming a developed western economy is for your political leaders to announce grand national IT projects that will deliver huge service improvements to the public at low cost.

The second step is for the whole project to collapse under huge overspends, under-delivery and bribe scandals.

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WTF?

Maybe

They could always divert some of the £650m they're spending on over grown fireworks. Third world country, with big problems with child labour, poor santitation etc;, and yet the governments priorities are to put a man into space and give out free laptops. I would have thought that the poor living in run-down shacks would appreciate a reasonable standard of living rather than being able to watch a rocket take off on a 10" screen

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Thumb Up

@ALL

I wish them well. I'm sure there are a lot of interesting folks in India that it would be cool to chat with online.

Of course the price is optimistic. It's a challenge to get the cost down as low as possible. There's almost certainly some subsidy built in, to get it to that price point. Local assembly would probably help get the cost down, and provide some folks with the income to buy the thing. But India has a huge population so the opportunities for ridiculous economies of scale are also there.

As for prioritizing on this rather than something else, well, I think this is a good priority to have. A web tablet comes with a variety of useful things, like Google. Using the Google you can find information about all sorts of things, like how people manage conception in the rest of the world, various forms of well designs, and medical information of all sorts - some of it even true. And it comes with income opportunities too.

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