FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Monday, January 30, 2006

Microsoft Offers Its Own Online Option for the Poor

The idea of being the Henry Ford of global computing -- that is, creating an online device that nearly anyone on the planet could afford -- is very appealing these days. Perhaps inspired by the MIT Media Laboratory's $100 computer concept, Microsoft's Bill Gates is pitching the idea of a "cellular PC," a cell phone that could be converted to a PC by hooking it to a keyboard and TV... and that would be running Windows software, of course.

Originally, the MIT Media Lab sought agreements with both Microsoft and Apple to run their software on its $100 laptops. But when talks fell through in both cases, the Media Lab turned to the open source Linux operating system.

Gates contends that a cell phone would be an even cheaper solution than the $100 laptop, though no prices have been announced.

Developing such a device and making it successful is more than just a nice, altruistic idea. Because Bill Gates was effectively the Henry Ford of American computing, Microsoft products are nearly ubiquitous in US homes and businesses. Bringing that power to a global audience would provide the dominant device maker with untold opportunity for growth and profits.

Source: New York Times