Saturday, December 24, 2005

Innovation IV: $100 Hand-Cranked Laptop

"The $100 laptop has enormous disruptive potential... The computer is the size of a textbook, features built-in wireless capability that can connect to the web via WiFi and create local area networks,... can be powered by a hand crank... [and keeps costs down] by reliance on open-source software, a radical redesign that focuses on simplicity and durability, and economies of scale.

What an interesting idea!

But we intuitively know that introducing a $100 hand-cranked laptop to power users at the high-end of the laptop market will get it annihilated. Can you imagine introducing a laptop powered by a hand crank to the mainstream of corporate America? Pshhh. "The $100 laptop is being derided by industry incumbents as nothing more than a gadget... in the words of Intel Chairman Craig Barrett."

So how do you commercialize such an interesting idea? Where are there potential customers looking for a simpler, cheaper, more convenient solution to a problem where a hand cranked laptop is a great alternative?

How about children in developing countries? Right now they don't have any computer. And many of them live in places where electricity is too expensive, insufficient, or unreliable to power a computer if they had one. The $100 hand-cranked laptop is being positioned to compete against non-consumption by meeting the needs of a massive and massively underserved market.

And who knows, at the technology matures there might be niches where the technology can be introduced to power users in the US. Ever wish you had a hand-crank when your laptop died on an airplane?

No comments: