Saturday, January 31, 2009

WHILE DELL & GATES COUNT THEIR MOOLAH, INDIA INNOVATES

On February 3, the Indian government will unveil a $10 educational laptop intended to bring computing to the masses, reports the Times of India. Like a lot of cheap PCs, the device will sport 2GB of RAM, Wi-Fi and expandable hardware, and operate on a modest two watts of power. The current prototype can be produced for about $20, according to India's Secretary for Higher Education, R.P. Agarwal. Large-scale production runs should cut that price in half, he said, resulting in the $10 figure the government is touting. According to the Times of India, the $10 laptop is a direct response to the MIT-developed nonprofit One Laptop Per Child program, that was viewed as grossly expensive in India.
India's ultra-cheap laptop is part of a tersely-named initiative called the National Mission on Education Through Information and Communication Technology. That mission also extends to a connectivity initiative meant to get students and textbooks all over India online. India's education ministry has reportedly made deals with four publishers (Macmillan, Tata McGraw Hill, Prentice-Hall and Vikas Publishing) to provide digital textbooks and content on the $10 laptops, some of which will be accessible for free.
The Indian government also hasn't announced whether it will be selling the $10 notebook commercially, after it goes in to production this summer. If it does, it may not be for a long time; the ministry of education will have enough work to do distributing these notebooks and expanding connectivity in the nation's 18,000 colleges.

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