Wanted: USD 50 Thin Client

I have been thinking about this for some time. How do we get a really low cost thin client? Think of it as a “virtual PC”. All processing and storage on the server with Emergic Freedom software. A USD 50 thin client combined with a thick server can really explode the computing markets in countries like India.

So, how do we get to a USD 50 thin client? Actually, this cost threshold is for a black box, excluding the keyboard, mouse and monitor. For a USD 50 (Rs 2,300) “black box”, we probably need a USD 10 CPU and a USD 30 motherboard. The box needs to have five connectors: for keyboard, mouse, monitor, LAN and power. It needs to be able to run “vnc” on the software side, on some OS. The processing capability on the client side needs to be no more than 66-100 Mhz with 2 MB RAM at most.

– old computers (in India, there is a problem: a USD 200 anti-dumping import duty on second-hand PCs)
– single-board computer design (based on 486-type architectures)
– PDAs
– set-top boxes
– cellphones

Ideally, I want to use something which does not need large investments in R&D or manufacturing – meaning it should be available off-the-shelf, or need only a little reconfiguration of an existing design.

What is the potential market for this? In India alone, I can estimate 30 million units over the next 5 years – going into SMEs. Multiply this by a few times as we go across the world. This is what the next generation of computing users need. This is the Rs 5,000 PC Ecosystem I wrote about earlier – think of the problem now as the $50TC (USD 50 Thin Client).

How does one make this happen? Any suggestions?

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.