Microsoft Weighs in on How to Help the Poor

Don’t you love it when big companies squabble among themselves over not whether, but how, to help folks in developing nations?

A couple days ago I blogged about the $100 Laptop idea, which has the backing of MIT’s Media Lab, as well as corporate partners like Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Brightstar, Google, News Corporation, Nortel, and Red Hat.

Now, Microsoft says it has a better idea. Cellphones already pack a fair bit of computational power, and are getting more common even in poorer countries. So, why not use them as the heart of a simple desktop computer setup? Attach a cheap keyboard, and a TV as a monitor, and voila!
Here’s the story from the NY Times: Microsoft Would Put Poor Online by Cellphone

Craig J. Mundie, Microsoft’s vice president and chief technology officer, said in an interview here that the company was still developing the idea, but that both he and Mr. Gates believed that cellphones were a better way than laptops to bring computing to the masses in developing nations. “Everyone is going to have a cellphone,” Mr. Mundie said, noting that in places where TV’s are already common, turning a phone into a computer could simply require adding a cheap adaptor and keyboard. Microsoft has not said how much those products would cost.

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