But there is a lack of clarity about how such price points can be achieved. Writing in the Guardian, Suhasini Sakhare points out that the cost of the components alone runs to $47, and that is before any labor or supply chain costs, or profit have been accounted for. The details of the prototype released last week also did not state who would be manufacturing the device.
Sakhare also argues that provision of cheap devices is not the right place to start. The mobile phone explosion in India was driven by huge demand; cheap handsets had to be created to meet this. With a poor broadband infrastructure in India, demand remains low - new broadband subscriptions are at a rate of 100,000 to 200,000 a month compared to 18 million for mobile connections. Demand for such cheap devices will only come with much greater awareness and computer literacy, she believes: "Unless it channels and meets the demand for usable, accessible knowledge, the $35 tablet will remain an interesting oddity, a shortsighted solution and a fledgling power's fist-waving response."
Wired.com features an interesting pair of articles today, both looking on the ever popular "social impact of the internet" theme. On the positive side, Clay Shirky, in a discussion with Daniel Pink, argues that the internet is enabling us to put the free time we have had since industrialization to productive use. In this sense, it's an infinitely better technology than television he claims:
"Television was a solitary activity that crowded out other forms of social connection. But the very nature of these new technologies fosters social connection—creating, contributing, sharing. When someone buys a TV, the number of consumers goes up by one, but the number of producers stays the same. When someone buys a computer or mobile phone, the number of consumers and producers both increase by one. This lets ordinary citizens, who’ve previously been locked out, pool their free time for activities they like and care about. So instead of that free time seeping away in front of the television set, the cognitive surplus is going to be poured into everything from goofy enterprises like lolcats, where people stick captions on cat photos, to serious political activities like Ushahidi.com, where people report human rights abuses.These ideas are further explored in Shirky's new book, Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age, due out in a couple of weeks.
In the more negative corner, Nicholas Carr writes about the way that exposure to digital technology is altering the ability of our brains to process information: