Novatium Approach Criticism

Following the Newsweek cover story, I came across this article by Chin Wong:

A company in India called Novatium has begun selling the NetPC for only $100, but heres the catch: it has no hard disk, very little memory to speak of, and uses a cheap processor of undisclosed origin thats more typically found on mobile phones. The software? Zip. Youll have to subscribe to that, including the operating system, which will be rented out to you over the Internet. You cant save your files locally, eitheryoull have to send them back to the server over the Internet.

even if the speed of my broadband connection suddenly doubled tomorrow, I still wouldnt trade in my PC for a $100 NetPC and heres why.

First, I run applications that would crawl over a network. You can do word processing reasonably well over the Internet, but dont try manipulating a 60-megabyte graphic file or editing video over a network unless you have a lot of time on your hands. And hosted applications will slow down as more users get on the network.

Second, I like local storage and I have a hunch most people do, too. This is why we save data files to the hard disk, keep backups of important files, burn digital photos onto CDs and fill up MP3 players with our favorite songs. We like having this stuff available, even when the network isnt.

Finally, and perhaps most important, I like the freedom to run any program I want on my computer without having to get it from some centralized server. This is what drove people from dumb terminals and centralized computing in the first place, and this is what will keep thin clients out of the computing mainstream for years to come. The PC let the genie out of the bottle, and it will take more than a rehashed network computer to get it back in.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.