It’s all very well for Bill Gates to mock the planned $100 “One Laptop per Child” scheme. And, well, yippee for him, his company is releasing a mini ultra-mobile computer with a teensy-tiny screen that will retail for $600-$1000. But, pray tell, what bloody use would such a piece of hardware be to people in the poorest parts of the world?
I think it is shocking that the wealthiest man in the world should mock a project like this and talk about how it’s really “network connectivity, applications and support” that make up the bulk of the cost. Certainly if you buy his company’s applications they will cost you a packet – one of the reasons why I have now moved to the Open Source market for my applications, and it’s not only my pocket that is better off for having done this.
Network connectivity can be expensive but it shouldn’t be. As with all business, the cost comes from ensuring a profit-margin that will satisfy investors and board members who really don’t give a stuff about the little guy. If they did, more profit would be reinvested instead of being used to pay executives and directors salaries and bonuses that they questionably “deserve”. Anyone who wants to say I’m wrong may do so. However, if I am wrong, why is Mr. Gates advocating a $600-$1000 PC and not supporting the drive to reduce the cost of a laptop to $100. Maybe $100 is too low to aim for but is $600 (oh, okay, $599 – semantics, semantics!!!) really the best that he and his billions of $ can aim for?
The same applies to support. Support costs could be greatly reduced if the applications were properly written and tested in the first place. I’ve been in IT for over twenty years and, despite all the advances in processing power, memory size, storage capacity, etc., the applications we rely on are becoming more and more buggy, more and more bloated. And, surprise, surprise, more expensive to support.
Anyway, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system I have to say that Mr. Gates’ remarks show he has rather missed the point of these laptops – which are being made with developing countries in mind.