Making Computing Affordable

Two interesting stories point to a future of affordable computing. Scott McNealy says “customers are paying up to 10 times what they should to buy and run computers, but a correction will come soon”, and Intel is thinking of ways “to come out with less-expensive versions of its processors and chipsets to better suit the customer base in India, Eastern Europe and other developing regions.”

This is the theme (Emergic) I have talked often in my writings here – we need to bring down cost of hardware, software and support by a factor of 10 to take computing to the next billion users in the emerging markets.

Sun’s approach is elaborated by the story:

Sun believes it has the answer to the problem: Customers should buy collections of hardware and software already assembled and suited to the task at hand, and they should run multiple tasks on those systems to ensure computing capacity isn’t going unused.

The Java Enterprise System will cost companies $100 per employee per year to use, Sun said. That fee includes professional services to help customers switch to the Sun software, as well as training and 60 hours a week of support. The company argues that charging customers that way is simpler than pricing software packages out for different customers depending on how many e-mail boxes, servers, server processors, terabytes of storage space they use.

The Java Desktop System costs $100 per desktop per year or–for customers using the Java Enterprise System–$50 per employee per year, Sun said.

Intel’s ultimate goal is to sell PCs for as little as USD 199, according to its president, Paul Otellini. Writes “The main question facing the company now is how to take the cost out of building a desktop.”

I think Intel is not getting it right here – it already has the solution. Take its 486 chips or the Pentium I chip, and make a USD 50 thin client. Think thin clients, not cheap thick desktops.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.