Famille Du Pentium

Another Day, Another Llama Video

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

The $100 PC, MIT, and Bill Gates

This might turn out to be a "Rant and Rave", or maybe a political entry.  But for now, I’ll leave it "Technical".

MIT Professor Nicholas Negroponte has made a rather public announcement recently that he intends to have MIT develop a "$100 Laptop" that MIT will then leverage to get technology into the hands of developing countries.  This is both a technically ambitious and charitable effort – the ability to produce a $100 PC in quantity has long been a holy grail of cutting edge PC manufacturers and upping the ante to make it a laptop makes it even more interesting.  This will require a great deal of new technology development, hence the need for MIT to do it, because the components today just simply aren’t cheap enough in quantity to maintain production at a zero or miniscule profit.  So the boys at MIT have their work cut out for them.  I’m rooting for them.

 Apparently Bill Gates is not.  He is mocking them.  Apprently sensing a threat to his new "Tablet PC", which has nothing to do with putting technology in the hands of developing nations, Bill Gates has come out saying:

“The last thing you want to do for a shared use computer is have it be something without a disk … and with a tiny little screen,”

He went on to mock the crack that provides power when a battery is not present, and other features of the PC.  I guess those Ugandan children really ought to learn to plug their laptops in – to what, I don’t know.  Maybe Bill envisions electric goats or something in Africa.

Clarly Bill Gates is put off by anyone who challenges him both at technology and charity.  The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is certainly very generous… with some causes.  But it hasn’t promised to put technology into the hands of the masses like MIT has.   Also, Bill completely misses the point of the project… to provide A PC to every child in the developing world, not a SHARED PC.   I think Bill engaged his mouth before checking the brain gear position this time.  

First of all Bill, unlike your world, it’s not about $100.  Ugandan children can no more afford a $100 dollar PC than a $3000 PC.  That’s not the point.  The only people paying a dime for these PCs will be developers, who will likelly run, not walk to get the opportunity to develop software for the billions of emerging markets.  Oh and probably some NGOs, and even government organizations.  But certainly not some South African tribal pre-teen.  And Bill’s higher spec tablet PC will be as interesting to them as … well, you get the point. 

The point is, that MIT is working to make a notebook so cheap that a real difference can be made by organizations that do have the money to buy them.  That’s a far cry better than Gates is doing right now.

Some news links after the jump. 

DNA Evolutions – Microsoft chief Bill Gates mocks the $100 PC 

 Wired – Laptop Detractors Shrugged Off

posted by Michael Humphries-Dolnick at 8:08 pm  

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Powered by WordPress