Thursday, January 31, 2008

After cheap cars, the race hots up for cheap PCs

Tata Motors’ Nano has inspired many makers of mass goods to consider using India's frugal engineering prowess to rewrite the definition of affordability. Across the nation’s IT hubs there is a massive research underway to produce an ultra cheap computer for the general masses. The question is: Can PC-makers launch a computer as cheap as $100 (Rs 4000)?

Analysts say there is a market for a cheap computer costing around Rs 4,000 in India and companies may gain if they enter into sales pact with educational institutes in particular. Already, the booming mobile-phone business in developing countries like India and China has shown that digital technology can spread at an incredible rate among middle class consumers when pursued on a long term basis.

“There is huge untapped potential in the Indian markets and many PC makers are looking at low-cost options,” says Raj Saraf Chairman and MD, Zenith Computers.

The key to making an ultra cheap computer is to make low cost chips and processors. Giants like Intel, AMD and ST Microelectronics are working on a war footing to design a low cost VLSI (Very-large-scale integration) chip that would make a personal computer more affordable to the common man in emerging markets. Mukesh Kumar a hardware engineer with a major chip maker said, “The race is on to design a small and low-priced VLSI chip.” read full story