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September 22, 2003

Simputer: Not a common man's device anymore

There must be some lessons to be learned from Simputer project :


Well, it's not a cheap computer.

Its proponents have since discarded the buzzword -- 'cheap computer' -- that brought the Simputer into the limelight.

"We are not making a cheap computer. We are making a sophisticated device that will make computing possible for everyone," declares Professor Manohar.

And that computing for everyone is likely to carry a price tag of anything between Rs 12,000 and Rs 20,000.

Encore's entry-level model will cost Rs 12,000, while the most expensive one will be priced Rs 22,000.

PicoPeta is likely to price its Simputer, Amida, at about Rs 15,000.

Which begs the question, why would anyone opt for a Simputer and not go for a desktop PC or a handheld device?

For its portability and the range of features it offers, argue PicoPeta and Encore.

"Our Simputer comes with a smart card reader. It has a USB master that can host different kind of peripherals. It has an in-built modem, GSM/CDMA data interface, GPS receiver and the equivalent of a 400 MHZ Celeron. It is a power packed machine," says Samyeer Metrani, group manager (embedded systems), Encore Technologies.

Says PicoPeta's Professor Manohar: "The Rs 20,000 that a desktop costs is only a part of the total ownership costs. How many people can use the standard PC? You need to know Windows, English, how to operate a mouse, et cetera. The Simputer will give them applications that they can handle easily."

But clearly, somewhere along the line from conception to development, talk of the Rs 9,000 Simputer that would become the computer for the poor man, has been lost.

"The Rs 10,000 estimate for a Simputer was based on 100,000 pieces being ordered. When we told people that they just wrote about the first part and forgot to mention the conditional second part," says Professor Manohar.

Yet he feels the Simputer will find enough takers. "There are 7 million (70 lakh) PCs in the country today. There are over 1 billion (100 crore) people in this country. Where are the rest going to get PCs from?" he asks.

September 22, 2003 in Social angle | Permalink

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