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Ballmer, AMD and Me

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Okay chest pounding and self congratulation that is something which needs to be left to basketball players, ESPN anchors and Hollywood types. Reporters should never ever congratulate themselves about anything they have done in the past. But what the hell, I am going to be shameless about it. AMD, Microsoft and everyone else has finally come around to realizing something I have been saying for the longest time. Here is my Op-Ed, People’s PC and what I wrote:

Technology’s biggest opportunity that is staring them in the face. It is what I call a Massputer a computer that costs $300 for the computing hungry masses in emerging economies like India, China and Brazil. Users of this massputer should be able to do basic tasks like writing documents, Internet surfing, email and perhaps some business-related tasks like data entry. There are nearly four billion people who live in these emerging markets and assuming that only 10 per cent of them can afford $300 it is still a market of 400 million.

  • Ballmer: We need a $100 PC : One way to stem piracy is to offer consumers in emerging countries a low-cost PC, Ballmer said. “There has to be…a $100 computer to go down-market in some of these countries. We have to engineer (PCs) to be lighter and cheaper,” he said.
  • AMD plans to start shipping the low-cost PCs soon after the model’s Oct. 28 release, is calling the new machine the Personal Internet Communicator. It will cost $185 just for the computer, and $249 for both the computer and a 15-inch monitor.

4 Responses to “Ballmer, AMD and Me”

  1. Linux/BSD for the people at the bottom of the pyramid? For what, to boost their self-esteem? Certainly not.

    For people in BRIC countries where securing the basic neccessities of life can be a daily battle, I doubt if knowing shell programming will provide any boost to a family’s self-esteem.

  2. john mcclenny

    The geode has been a fairly open platform in the past – designed a STB around it in 2000 and had FreeBSD/linux ported to it fairly easily. X86 architecture with fairly vanilla peripherals.

    The problem with adding Ethernet/etc. is that every little addition adds another $10 in cost – doesn’t matter what it is, it always seems to cost $10 by the time you factor in board space and support for the feature.

  3. Charlie Sierra

    Kudos Om,

    The only problems I see with the AMD box is that it has no ethernet port (for the future), and the OS is Windows CE.

    If the OS was Linux/BSD, then you would get a “force multiplier” effect by allowing users to experiment and educate themselves. Heck they’ll even start to support themselves. I know I already provide support for everybody in my family whether I want to or not.

    AMD should really reconsider an opensource platform, because it would provide a very tangible magnet to stimulate education, critical thinking and creativity. The talent and pride gained even from learning simple shell scripting would be a very powerful force on the collective self-esteem. By choosing a Windows CE based OS, I think AMD has really missed an opportunity to treat these markets with respect and not just naked consumerism. I have a feeling that the respective governments of the target markets might weight in on the OSS side.

    FYI, this market is often refered to as BRIC. That is Brazil, Russia, India, China, etc…

    Now for those that would like a more formal (dare I say) Business School analysis of “The Invisible Opportunity” that Om has touched on, I suggest this article:
    “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid”

    PS. I just saw you mentioned in one of the blogs. (That’s O’reilly the book publisher, not the TV nutjob.)