Yesterday saw a raft of news articles and blog posting reporting that India was developing a $10 laptop. I saw the story, read it with interest and then decided not to write it up for Blorge because something seemed slightly wrong. And so it proved to be, as the Indian Government’s press bureau issued an apology, and updated the proposed price of the laptop to $100.
When the story of the $10 laptop entered my feeds yesterday, I was almost blown away for a minute, as that sort of price really would bring the age of computing in to the grasp of the poorest countries in the world. Engadget called the price point a “landmark event for all parties involved”, and if it had turned out to be true, then that would definitely have been correct.
Unfortunately, according to PC World, the price is actually going to be $100, matching the aims of various low-cost PC manufacturers in the States and beyond. The misreporting occurred due to a simple error in the transcribing of the speech by the Indian Minister of State for Higher Education, D. Purandeswari.
Purandeswari held a press conference in Delhi to unveil the plans for a low-cost laptop, which is due to be a joint venture between the Indian Government and two leading Indian education and research institutions. Regardless of the error in the number, the initiative is still a promising one, offering hope for a better level of higher education for Indian students. I hate to say it but doesn’t the error by the government’s press bureau underline the need for better educational standards in the country?
No specifications on the machine were revealed, and it’s unclear as to whether the price would be kept low by a Government subsidy. According to Yahoo!, at the moment only 4.38 million Indian citizens have access to broadband Internet – a woeful figure for a population of over 1.13 billion. As well as the low-cost laptop, the Government also plans to give free bandwidth to every Indian for educational purposes.
This numeric error is clearly an embarrassment for the Indian Government, but I hope it doesn’t overshadow the aim of the initiative, which is to give Indian citizens as much access to computers and the Internet as those in wealthier countries. When that’s on offer, what’s one little 0 between friends?