Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A Laptop from God

There's been a huge amount of talk around the "$100 laptop" idea. One Laptop Per Child, has gotten the most press and there are similar efforts from Intel's Classmate (note: I work for Intel but have no affiliation with the Classmate product or team), Asus' Eee PC and others.

I'm quite surprised at how much press there is on the feasibility of the price point, and how little press there is about what business models could sustain such a price point.

As pointed out in this CNET piece, Gartner analyst Annette Jump beleive's that the $100 is still too high, and that it's also not feasible due to a bunch of other TCO type costs (Internet access, servicing, etc).

Whether $100 or a few hundred more, it seems some sort of subsidy is necesary. There's been a lot of talk about government subsidy, and some talk of 'charitable organizations' providing subsidy.

There's a precedent for the subsidy of providing educational equipment and other basic infrastructure to third world countries: Religious groups, via missionary work.

It's been long understood that basic quality of life improvement can be a powerful persuader, and religous groups* often provide such services out of charitable motivation, but not without association to their beleifs (e.g. lots of Christian mission groups helped out after the Tsunami in Asia a few years back, but I don't think any did so anonymosly.)

[*Political groups aren't unaware of this. My own grandmother lived in a very rural area of Quebec, and whenever anyone bad-mouthed the oft-bad-mouthed Maurice Duplessis, she countered with "C'est lui qui a apporte l'electricite" ("It was him who brought the electricity") and thus he could do no wrong in her eyes, despite his other doings.]

Anyhow, I'm surprised more religious groups haven't latched onto this opportunity. Seems a pretty powerful motivator.

"Why do I follow Jesus? He's the one that brought the Internet!"

[Note: Since some may question my motives in this post. I'm atheist, and am not advocating for or against the above, just pointing out what seems like an opportunity. Personally, I don't worry too much about education or technology with religious strings attached, since educated people are better equiped to question their faith anyway.]


Toms said...

I don't really understand the idea of subsidizing anything but essential things. I have no interest in the government stepping in for something that is ultimately so trivial.

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