Interview in Express Computer

An Express Computer special issue on Linux has an interview with me, done by Venkatesh Hariharan (Venky). An extract from what I have said:

Our belief is that if you can make things available at an affordable price, there will be a dramatic growth in the usage of computing. It will create a domestic market which we sorely lack. While we have a successful exports business in software, we definitely need to have a domestic market. If Indian industry is to be competitive, we need to be big users of technology. We need to make complete solutions available at an affordable price and with no compromise on the applications front.

Just because we cannot afford things, we dont want to tell people to compromise on applications and performance. This is where Linux provides a very strong platformespecially Linux which is running on the server so that your desktops can be of much lower cost. Instead of three new desktops, you can now give computers to 10 more people in your company for the same investment.

The penetration of technology in Indian companies is so low5-10 percent is what we are at. The installed base is just seven to eight million. Basic applications like messaging, etc, will not be effective if only a small number of people use it.

The idea iswhat does it take to get a computer on every desktop and accessible to every family in the country? This is where a combination of three things is key. This is what I call the 5K PC ecosystem. This consists of the thin-client, server-centric computing and open source software.

What this does is bring down the input costs for computing. You cant sell at a low cost if input costs are high. At the same time, we do not want a nation of pirates. People can pirate a few applications but most applications they cannot pirate. Therefore they cannot use them and are doing things inefficiently. So they are caught in a technology trap.

Our competition is not proprietary software, it is non-consumption. We need to take what Bill Gates said in the American contextA computer on every desk and in every pocketand translate that into an Indian contextA computer on every desk and accessible to every Indian family. We cannot afford dollar-denominated technology, so we should leverage Moores law on the server and leverage our strengths in the software industry through open source.

The issue also has an article by Prakash Advani on comparison of the total cost of ownership between Linux and Windows.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.