$100 Laptops, $135 Android touch tablets and more... they're flooding Pakistan

$100 Laptops, $135 Android touch tablets and more... they're flooding Pakistan

We’ve been discussing low cost Netbooks and Tablets for the last several years here at TechLahore, and we’ve always felt that the mainstreaming of these devices will be a huge force in democratizing communications, access and learning in the developing world. In 2007 and through 2008, we were tracking Nicholas Negroponte’s much ballyhooed Sugar OLPC project which unfortunately didn’t quite meet the price targets set for it. We also looked at the Intel Classmate PC and the Government’s sponsorship of this effort in Pakistan. All the while, we were quite sure that $100 price targets were not far from being met, not by education-focused initiatives like the Classmate and OLPC, but by run-of-the-mill mainstream budget systems. And that’s exactly where we are now.

Pakistan is awash in ultra-inexpensive Laptops, Netbooks and Tablets of every form factor. Being on a number of local distributors’ mailing lists, we are inundated with ads pitching the form factor du jour, at rapidly decreasing prices. Here is one example:

Cheap computers galore in Pakistan!

Cheap computers galore in Pakistan!

For reference, a US Dollar is roughly Rs. 84 in Pakistani currency as of 10/28/2010. So, divide the amounts to get to dollar prices. A Netbook for $110, and an Adroid tablet for $135 ain’t so bad! Low cost computers are a reality today, and you can buy them in quantities of one… not a million at a time as the OLPC programme required. So, now the question is, what will Pakistan’s schools, rural areas and low-income neighbourhoods look like in 5 and 10 years? How will this inexpensive technology help create new opportunities and solve problems that have thus-far remained unaddressed? That’s the 50 Billion dollar question. And we’ll certainly be watching how things go…

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