Broad-basing Computing

The Hindu writes in an editorial:

To millions of citizens who cannot afford an expensive personal computer, the early results of a pilot test of a low-cost networked PC, which uses a cable connection to hook up to the Internet, offer new hope to overcome digital deprivation. The nimble `thin computing’ system eliminates the need for the consumer to acquire powerful hardware and expensive software to perform functions such as writing documents, accessing websites, and emailing. The pilot project in a middle-class locality in Chennai by Novatium, a technology products company, to demonstrate a Rs.4,450 NetPC has attracted wide attention; the user has a recurring access cost, inclusive of Internet charges, of about Rs.450 a month. For quite a while, networking companies have aimed to make the `network the computer.’ In parallel, there have been attempts by others to produce low-cost standalone PCs that can break the $100-barrier while plans to develop handheld devices with similar goals met with limited success. The NetPC model seeks to shift the burden of performance away from the user’s hardware to the server. By accessing software that is installed not at the user end but on a remote server, the total cost of ownership for the consumer is reduced.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.