The $100 PC has long been considered the hurdle to clear in order to reach technology’s biggest pot of gold — affordable computing for the masses in countries like Brazil, China, India, and Russia. Make no mistake, this isn’t just altruism. A cheap PC is a great business opportunity for anyone who can build a 10 percent profit margin into each device, as Jain’s company is trying to do. That’s why chipmaking goliath Intel is working on cheaper processors targeted overseas, why Microsoft has begun selling a $20 stripped-down version of its Windows operating system, why giants like Advanced Micro Devices and Google have partnered with maverick MIT professor Nicholas Negroponte to develop a $100 laptop. And long before them, Oracle and Sun Microsystems chiefs Larry Ellison and Scott McNealy tried, and failed, to market so-called network PCs.
So what gives tiny Novatium an edge over such high-profile competition? Most of those companies have focused on making traditional desktop PCs or laptops cheaper by using older, slower chips and skimping on memory and hard-drive storage. Novatium, on the other hand, has created a state-of-the-art network computer that mimics a traditional desktop machine at a fraction of the cost — and that will soon be made to run on any television, anywhere.