Sunday, November 27, 2005


EA and the United Nations $100 PC

The United Nations and the MIT Media Lab have announced a new research initiative to develop a $100 laptop. I wonder if industry analysts will do their part to make this successful?

The first thing that industry analysts and folks like Jon Udell of Infoworld can do is to start talking positively about this initiative. Some folks in the media of course will see yet another attempt to bash Microsoft which misses the point. These folk who practice bashing should be taken out and shot.

Some will be of the belief that creating hundreds of millions of laptops running Linux may be the death of Microsoft. After all, the question is begged as to how can any vendor make a profit on a $100 PC with an operating system such as Windows that costs more than the PC itself.

Steve Ballmer is a smart individual and has publicly stated the need for a $100 PC before the hype cycle on this topic even started. Check out this article.

As you are aware from reading my various blog entries that I am a big fan of open source and free software but not of GNU Linux for which this laptop will run. I predict that spammers, malware writers, etc will come out of the woodwork developing nasty programs for this devices that turn them into BotNets or other sinister acts.

This in turn, will actually create an opportunity for Microsoft, as folks will migrate to a more secure platform. If the platforms do not come with firewalls, anti-virus protection, etc, then it will more than likely fail.

Likewise, I am of the belief that Linux is not a done deal for this platform. Imagine if Microsoft decided to make a charitable gift of the Windows operating system with anti-virus software to the United Nations for this purpose, they could serve to make a ton of money. They wouldn't need to make money off Windows but could make money by considering it a charitable contribution at tax time and claiming full list price for their software. Microsoft could not only not pay taxes by being charitable, they could be inline to further increase their profit margins.

This is making me think that I should go out and buy more Microsoft stock. Oops, I am off topic, so lets get back to the media and industry analysts. The first thing that I would love for them to consider is in getting corporate America to participate in this undertaking. After all, if you have generations of folks growing up on Information Technology, your IT costs can drop considerably.

For American's, we should also support this initiative as it will prevent more jobs from going to India. Contribution from corporate America for this undertaking shouldn't be simply in the form of cash, but should also include sabbaticals for enterprise architects such that they can travel to distant lands to show these folks how to make them work. Maybe I could teach schoolchildren in Brazil how to use them during Carnaval?

Likewise, there is a nation of bloggers that would volunteer their efforts to assist in this regard, if we only told how we can help. Maybe the folks over at MIT could drop a note to Jon Udell of Infoworld who will not only blog about the need but also ensure it gets a couple of pages dedicated to it in an upcoming issue?

In all seriousness, I would gladly volunteer my own time and services to assist those in Trinidad (my adopted country) to learn how to use computers. Maybe Bill and Linda Gates would consider adopting Biche Trinidad as the first pilot location that's international?

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