Tech Vendors Target Third World With Low-Cost Devices

Intel and AMD want to increase the number of people with Internet access, which currently stands at around 15% worldwide.

Darrell Dunn, Contributor

May 5, 2006

1 Min Read

Only about 15% of the world's population has access to the Internet. Tech vendors want to change that for reasons that are both altruistic and selfish.

At last week's World Congress on Information Technology, a biannual gathering of IT movers and shakers, chip rivals Intel and Advanced Micro Devices mapped out their plans to provide computing power and Internet access to a billion more people.

AMD chairman and CEO Hector Ruiz outlined the company's 2-year- old "50x15" program, which aims to provide Internet access to half the world's population by 2015. AMD gave away a Personal Internet Communicator, an entry-level PC developed as part of the program, to more than 2,000 attendees.

Intel president and CEO Paul Otellini unveiled the World Ahead Program and said Intel will invest more than $1 billion over the next five years to provide technology to developing communities worldwide. "Forty-one years ago, a transistor cost $5 to manufacture," he said. "Today that cost is one-millionth of $1. It's now cheaper to produce a transistor than to grow a single grain of rice."

Part of Intel's program involves a "low-cost, full-featured" computer being developed as part of a deal partially financed by the Mexican government and the Mexican Teachers Union. About 300,000 of the PCs will be provided to teachers in Mexico.

Developing new markets is a smart move for tech vendors, even if their inexpensive devices produce smaller profits. Growth has to come from somewhere.

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