We’ve been hearing about the Simputer, a PDA designed for use by the world’s poor (third world countries), for a couple of years now, and it’s been delayed so many times that you’ve gotta wonder whether it was such a good idea in the first place.
Well, finally the first ones, manufactured by Picopeta and marketed by Amida, went on sale in Bangalore, India yesterday. The Simputer has specs that sound about standard for a mid-range PDA: a 206MHz processor, 64MB of RAM. The big differences are that it runs a special version of Linux that can run on voice commands (most people using the Simputer will probably be illiterate), and it uses regular AAA batteries, since finding a place to recharge can be tough in places like India.
With its high cost of about $220 - rougly 10,000 Indian Rupees - which is equivalent to an entire month's (for some, year’s) earnings for many people in the developing world like India; the idea is that villages will pool their resources to buy them! Is there enough of a market for the Simputer, especially considering that an off-the-shelf Palm or Pocket PC can be had for under $200 (or even under $80)?
And btw, how exactly would this revolutionize the daily lives of illiterate indians living in Villages?
Inspite of all this, its nice to see some original product design from India hitting the mainstream market.