Microsoft To Answer The $100 Laptop With Mobile Phones

from the anything-you-can-do-they-think-they-can-do-better dept

The decision by Nicholas Negroponte to use open-source software in his $100 laptop for the world's poor instead of a special version of Windows CE ruffled some feathers at Microsoft, with Bill Gates described as being "privately bitter" about it. It upset them enough that the company is now working on its own similar project to get poor people online with mobile phones that have keyboards and adapters so they could be connected to TVs, with Microsoft saying that it's a better and more sustainable idea than laptops. It's not really clear that one solution is better than the other: on the face of it, giving people a computer might appear more useful, but there are plenty of examples of people using mobile phones for economic empowerment. The danger, though, is that the benefits of both ideas take a back seat to some sort of ego-driven battle over whose approach is best. The bottom line here should be to help people, not to create a giant PR platform for your company's products.
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  1. identicon
    Tyshaun, 30 Jan 2006 @ 9:08am

    Re: They're starving,

    I think you folks are missing the point. The point of the laptops and/or cell phones is to provide an infrastructure for knowledge exhange and education, which is sorely needed. Yes, it is important to satisfy the basic needs of a poor population (like food and water), but until you teach them enough to build sustainable irrigation and agriculture for themselves, your'e only throwing a bandaid on the problem. I think it's a great idea to give out the laptops, load them up with aids so that missionaries can teach people to read, then you can give them references on basic sanitation and agriculture, and you I think you get the idea.

    The basic theme, which is great, is that you have to start addressing the roots of poverty as well as the end product.

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