The Indian $10 Laptop — Revisited

[Follow up to the previous post.]

I suppose it should not come as any surprise that it is now being claimed that the $10 cost was a mis-statement and the actual cost is $100. And like the “$100” OLPC which actually costs twice as much, probably the Indian laptop will — if it ever is actually produced — cost anything between $200 to $400, at which point it would be pointless as currently laptops are being produced for around $200 a pop by many manufacturers. I think it is a safe bet that the government officials who continue to make their $10 claims are clueless about technology and about the complexity of building a complex machine.

The newspapers are reporting that the laptop will be unveiled today. A couple of reports even quote yours truly.

However, some experts doubt that a laptop at $20 or $10 is commercially sustainable. Rajesh Jain, managing director of Netcore Solutions and a pioneer of low-cost computing in India, said: “You cannot even [make] a computer screen for $20. And India does not build much computer hardware. So where will the savings come from?”

Some bloggers today saw the new laptop as nothing more than a “souped up calculator”. The sceptism was summed up by Atanu Dey, whose blog read: “If the government could pull-off a near-impossible technological miracle, does it not imply that the entire global computer industry is either totally incompetent or else it is a huge scam which produces stuff at very little cost and sells them at exorbitant prices.” [guardian.co.uk.]

Both Rajesh and I quoted in the same news item 🙂 . Here’s a bit from Indian Express:

But even the most rudimentary netbooks cost more than ten times as much, and it is uncertain how this laptop will manage to display most internet content or really, even cover the cost of its material components. Atanu Dey, economist and tech commentator, has been scathing in his attack on the credulous press that bought the ten-dollar boast.[indianexpress.com]

Author: Atanu Dey

Economist.

4 thoughts on “The Indian $10 Laptop — Revisited”

  1. I agree to much of what you say about this thread. But one thing i did not understand or agree was : why would you oppose spending tax payer’s money to reduce laptop’s price(not cost as you have referred in your post). We can not bring down cost much .. certainly not to 10$ or so. But government can certainly bring down price of it by subsidizing it. Now laptop might not be ‘the’ thing that will change our(read Indian) education system overnight but i believe it can certainly help to some extent. And even if with this subsidy it benefits to that much extent …what would be so wrong in it ?

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  2. @rohit_indian forget about changing the education system overnight, what india needs is a “functional” education system. 10$ laptop seems nothing more than a gimmick right now.
    I agree that it might help our education system, but my point is, the amount that goes in subsidizing it can actually be put to a much better use.

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