Friday, 4 May 2007

Dr Nick's stalking horse

Last night I was surfing ebay for no good reason and happened across a gorgeous yellow, and I mean yellow 1970's typwriter made in Holland. And only $35. I lusted after it, because I'm (a) sad and (b) like retro things. However cute as it was I didn't bid for it, in the sure knowledge that my wife would kill me if we had to make space for such a retro device. A trained artist she firmly believes things like that belong in design museums, not lounge rooms.

And in a funny kind of way the gorgeous yellow typewriter is linked to Dr Nick's One Laptop per Child programme. A lot of people in developed countries want one because it's cute, looks good and is a talking point.

But it's also a stalking horse. People might start using these cutesy linux powered low cost boxes seriously as 'take anywhere' machines, and with links to things such as google docs provides lightweight cheap portable computing, just as various boxes like the Compaq Aero did 10 years ago.

Couple with some thinclient stuff and you're away.

And suddenly these cutesy boxes aren't so cutesy anymore, and repackaged in grey and silver start looking like business machines.

And that's what Microsoft is worried about with its $3 give away to education users in poor countries. An old operating system on second user computers in the third world isn't a corporate threat. A cheap low cost linux based platform in the first world is ....

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