$100 Laptop: A Revolution in the Making
After writing about GoogleNet and San Francisco, I wanted to chime in on this story of the $100 laptop (the other side of the equation). The story has received a ton of coverage. But if this can be brought to market and it's more than a toy, it's a revolution in the making.
It's billed as an educational tool for children in third world countries, but first world consumers would be snapping them up.
MIT (sponsor of the whole initiative, with some help from corporations such as Google and AMD) says they "won't be available for purchase by individuals." Regardless of what MIT says, don't believe it — the demand will be too great. (There's already a bill in the MA legislature to deliver the laptops to all children in Massachusetts.)
Here's how MIT describes the machine:
The proposed $100 machine will be a Linux-based, full-color, full-screen laptop that will use innovative power (including wind-up) and will be able to do most everything except store huge amounts of data. These rugged laptops will be WiFi- and cell phone-enabled, and have USB ports galore. Its current specifications are: 500MHz, 1GB, 1 Megapixel.
Don't say, "how lovely for those children." Think about it: it's very cheap, it's an Internet connection and a cellphone (assuming Wi-Fi, which is where GoogleNet comes in) and it doesn't run Windows. It won't have an 80 gig hard drive (but someone will develop that later, rest assured).
This is the second coming of Larry Ellison's "network PC" idea (and maybe eventually the free PC).
Don't want to take your laptop when you travel, but your cellphone is too limited? Here's a device that starts to answer the question. Your kids could put this machine in their backpacks. (Think about branded versions of this machine from, say, Disney.)
The computer is a commodity now (all but Apple's machines, which are fashion/lifestyle products), but this would radically accelerate that process. In fewer than 10 years, we may well have free computers and free access to promote advertising and other services.
At the very least we will probably have ubiquitous computing and universal access to go with it.