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Home > Business > PTI > Report

Made in India PC for just about $100

April 29, 2007 17:05 IST

While global computing giants like IBM and AMD are yet to give shape to their ambitious plans for a computer that costs $100 or less, an Indian company has already set its eyes on 10 million potential customers with its up-and-running PC priced at Rs 4,500 only.

The machine, launched by Chennai-based Novatium Solutions in 2004, costs a little over $100 as of today in the US currency, thanks to the depreciation in the greenback, but it was priced at less than $100 till a few months back.

Novatium is targeting 10 million users in the next five years for this innovative product, company CEO Alok Singh told PTI from Chennai.

The company has already started a successful commercial pilot for its NetPC computer in Chennai, he said.

"Since our trial was commercial in nature, we plan to stick to it. Going forward, we plan to expand into 6-7 big cities in the next year. Some of our immediate plans are going into two new cities in this quarter and two more in the next quarter," Singh said.

Novatium was co-founded by US-based Analog Devices chairman Ray Stata, Netcore Solutions managing director Rajesh Jain and professor Ashok Jhunjhunwala of IIT Madras.

The company's NetPC works on a 'thin client' concept. This is a small box and does not contain any software or application. It is linked to a central server, which hosts all applications.

"Network PC (NetPC) costs around $100 (less than Rs 4,400) and along with a monthly subscription of around Rs 400, it provides you with internet connection and almost everything like authentic software and applications," Singh said.

"The use of mobile chips forms the basis of our low-cost computer model," he added.

NetPC is probably one of the very few successful attempts when a company has been able to replicate a business model that combines philanthropy with sound economic sense.

US-based business software giant Oracle Corporation's founder Larry Ellison had mooted the idea of a low-cost network computer way back in 1990, while Nicholas Negroponte, the former director of Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Labs, has been long outlining designs for a sub-$100 computer.

In 2005, chip maker AMD also ventured out in the low-cost computing space and similarly, while Intel is also investigating ways to make low-cost PCs available in Eastern Europe, India and other developing areas.

When Negroponte, now heading the ambitious non-profit global project One Laptop Per Child, first unveiled his $100 computer model in 2005, the computing legend Bill Gates scoffed it for not being a 'decent machine.'

Things have changed a lot since then and when Negroponte revealed the machine finally last week, it turned out to be running on Microsoft's operating system, Windows XP Starter Edition.

However, the cost of the product coming out from One Laptop Per Child, designed for school children in developing countries, has been put at $175 -- which is quite higher than that of the Indian NetPC product.

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