July 2008 Archives

Three years ago, the IT industry was shocked with a radical idea - a "$100 laptop" designed specifically for education in the developing world. Price would be low and yet quality high, through innovative design mixed with low-cost components, and sales would be focused exclusively on the developing world.

This heretical bombast upset the longstanding computer manufacturing tradition to keep adding functions to maintain high prices in the developed world, while ignoring the developing world. The revolution was lead by One Laptop Per Child and its visionary founder, Nicholas Negroponte, and we now have a whole plethora of revolutionaries - from the upstart Asus to the goliath Intel - who are developing "4P Computers" in response to OLPC's iconic XO Laptop.

4P Computing is a new class of appropriate technology - computing power, performance, portability, and price specificity designed for the realities and markets of the developing world.

Now join Wayan Vota, an expert on ICT in the developing world, in an overview of this revolution, the resulting 4PC's, and their impact on the whole information and communication technology industry:


A special thanks to Alexius International for creating this video.

For the July Technology Salon, we're returning to the cellular technology world, with a twist. We'll be discussing mobile banking, m-Banking, but we'll move beyond the handsets and the hype to discuss the legal frameworks required to make it a reality.


The future bank teller in Mali

In some countries, text messages cannot be used as evidence in court - a problem if that's all you have to show for a money transfer. In other regions, cross-border and multi-currency transactions is the domain of banks, not mobile operators. In either situation or more, what is the development community's response to facilitate m-Banking?

Please join Michael Tetelman of AED, and Ann Casanova of CARANA, at the UN Foundation headquarters for a vibrant discussion of their work in overcoming legal and regulatory barriers to make local and intra-regional m-Banking a reality in the developing world.

July Technology Salon: Empowering m-Banking, Legally
Tuesday, July 15th, 8:30-10am,
UN Foundation Conference Room
1800 Mass Avenue, NW, Suite 400,
Washington, D.C. 20036 (map)
Do note that seating is limited and the UN Foundation is in a secure building. So the first dozen (12) to RSVP will be confirmed attendance and then there will be a waitlist.

About the Speakers
  • Ann Casanova is a lawyer with fourteen years of combined experience in multilateral trade negotiations, institutional strengthening, and management of USAID and IDB projects in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia. Ms. Casanova joined CARANA Corporation in 2004 as Vice President of the firm's Trade Practice.
  • Dr. Michael S. Tetelman is director of the dot-ORG program at the Academy for Educational Development (AED), and designs and manages innovative ICT infrastructure and applications projects that stimulate economic growth and improve the service delivery of governments and other institutions.
About the Technology Salon

Wayan Vota hosts the Technology Salon, an intimate and informal discussion around emerging trends in technology and international development, with a focus on both:
  • technology's impact on donor-sponsored technical assistance delivery, and
  • private enterprise driven economic development, facilitated by technology.
Active participation with your ideas, opinions, and predictions is actively encouraged, and Power Point presentations are banned. If you'd like to join us, please subscribe to get invitations.

With the plethora of new 4PC's (computer power, performance, price, and portability perfectly suited for the developing world), coming out of Computex this year, you might be wondering who is the current market leader. Personally, I would have to say its Asus with its popular Eee PC line.

Now that may surprise those that know me as a One Laptop Per Child fanboy, but as I told the Economist in its article "The rise of the low-cost laptop":

By raising the very possibility of a $100 laptop, the XO presented the industry with a challenge. Wayan Vota, founder of OLPCNews.com, an independent website that follows the project, calls the XO a "harbinger of an entirely new class of computers".
As such a harbinger, OLPC took the concept of 4P Computing, first conceptualized by the Simputer, and made it a practical reality with the XO laptop. But in the many missteps we chronicled on OLPC News, it never really commercialized its lead.

Asus has. It took Nicholas Negroponte's basic "$100 laptop" idea, and according to PC Magazine's "Asus Makes Another Eee PC Wave" article, commercialized it beyond anyone's expectations:

"We forecast sales of Eee PCs to double to 10 million units in 2009 with growing demands from both developed and emerging countries," said Jerry Shen, the CEO of Asus. According to a recent report from IDC, Asus shipped around 1.4 million notebooks in the first quarter of 2008 and ranked No.8 in terms of market share.

"In terms of worldwide shipments, it is the first time for a Taiwan IT brand to create such a huge impact in the global market by a single product," said Dickie Chang, the Personal Computing Solutions Analyst for IDC.
Now this doesn't mean that Asus will be the 4PC leader of tomorrow. In fact, the mantle may shift as early as this fall, as other players enter the market. Rumors and reality have everyone from HP to Dell to Toshiba, along with several come-from-nowhere candidates (like Asus, 6 months ago), jumping into the fray.

Only one thing is certain: The XO and its direct competitor, the Classmate PC, are, sadly, not going to be in the lead.

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View Wayan Vota's profile on LinkedIn


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