Our initial efforts at looking for beta installations for the Thin Client-Thick Server (TC-TS) solution among our MailServ customers was disappointing. The problems we ecnountered were:
– they already have 1:1 ratio of PCs to people at their head offices, so using TC-TS means switching users from Windows
– most run some specialised Windows applications, either on Foxpro or VB or some other platform
– many have already paid for the licences, so there’s no incentive for them to switch
– minimum cost-effective configuration is 25 TCs and 1 TS
This has made us re-think on our initial strategy of talking to some of our existing 100+ MailServ customers. In retrospect, we were after the wrong type of customers, forgetting some of the key benefits of the TC-TS solution. These include:
– a significant cost reduction in hardware and software (old PCs, open source)
– easing administration of the clients
– Linux base
– ideal where usage is limited to the base set of applications (browsing, email, letter-writing)
– targeting new (first-time) users, who have no baggage of “unlearning” Windows
To emphasise a point I’ve made in the past, we need to get users we can “delight” and not those who we will “disappoint”.
In light of this, have thought of some possible segments which can be early markets. This builds on Anand’s recent mail. We should be looking at:
– Hotels, in the rooms and business centre. Imagine waling into a hotel room, and finding an “instant-on” computer connected to the Internet. If the hotel charges Rs 500 (USD 10) extra for this facility, it could recover the cost in less than 30 days of usage (2 months, assuming 50% occupancy).
– Student Hostels, wherein again the basic need is for email and browsing.
– Hospitals (like Hotels)
– Business Centres, leveraging the concept of shared access
– Airport Lounges
– Schools and Colleges
– Factory Floors
– First-time PC users (especially in second-tier cities, branch offices)
– New companies just getting started
– Industrial Centres / Export Processing Zones
– Call Centres
– Training Centres
We could also target OEMs and Assemblers who can then take the solution to the end-users. As we think through the initial markets, we need to also make sure we make sure there is a clear business value for the buyers.