The Race to Connect Africa: Apple vs. Microsoft

May 19 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future
Category: Economics   Year: 2009   Rating: 9 Hot

With the rapid rise of the iPhone and Microsoft’s announcement that it will back the One Laptop per Child initiative, a massive battle for the African computer market may be shaping up sooner than expected.

The AP reports a new deal between Apple and cell provider Orange that will bring the iPhone to “Austria, Belgium, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Jordan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Switzerland and African markets later this year.”

At the same time, Microsoft has finally agreed to provide Windows to the now promising OLPC initiative after years of ridiculing the then far-fetched project.

Though the iPhone presently costs more than a OLPC PC, $399 vs. $100, that price is due to sharply drop (perhaps to the $100 -$200 range) with the imminent release of the new 3G iPhone, which itself may be priced at just $199 if rumors about a hefty AT&T subsidy prove correct.

While lack of comm infrastructure and politics will certainly remain the primary barriers to diffusion, it looks as though these low-cost yet high-value products, driven by large companies getting accustomed to rapidly exploding markets in which first-mover advantage is critical, may catalyze a perfect storm for connectivity in under-developed nations, most notably African countries. (cont.)

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New Touch-Screen OLPC Design Boosts Future Viability vs. the iPhone

May 21 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future
Category: Technology   Year: 2010   Rating: 2 Hot

Billions of currently computer-less people will never interface with a traditional keyboard. They will instead leapfrog to new touch-screen interfaces on smaller devices such as the Apple iPhone or the new One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) design unveiled yesterday.

Sporting dual touch-screen panels connected by a hinge that allows the device to fold open like a book, the OLPC XO-2 is scheduled to hit the market in 2010. At an estimated $75 price point, this will make the device a vastly more viable competitor of a 3G iPhone than the current OLPC design.

Though the current OLPC will surely make some inroads as an educational device in under-developed countries, as suggested by johnfrink in this comment thread it’s reassuring to see that Negroponte and the OLPC design crew have their ducks in order when it comes to future viablity and marketability of their product. The new model will stand a much better chance of grabbing critical market share vs. the iPhone while also enabling a wider touch-screen keyboard interface than its main competitor.

That being said, the 3G iPhone will still have the edge when it comes to telephony, digital photography and portability. Plus I’m sure that Apple, with their cognizance of rapid product cycles, is already at work on something similar to the XO-2. (cont.)

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