Skip to main content

A BoP strategy for the PC?

There's something endearing and noble about a company (especially a corporation) trying to serve the poor and bridge the Digital Divide. Something that can make you forget that, as John Mclane said, "Its always about the money." Of course, it is unwise to do so. That really explains the bad blood between Intel and Nicholas Negoroponte's OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) project.


I've been hearing about Negroponte's proposed project for years, though now it finally seems close to completion (shipping November-ish?). He's made a lot of noise about it, and has found a lot of interesting moral support. On the other hand, I hadn't heard about Intel's Eduwise computer until very recently and its already in production.

Why is Intel so interested in fighting on what is perceived (at least) to be a socially-responsible project? A few years ago, Prof. C.K. Prahlad's book "Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid", explained and gave examples of how serving the poor could lead to spectacular profits especially for large firms that could reap economies of scale. The notion is that (if I remember correctly) the poor care about and want many products. Some of these can be easily provided by large firms though they may need to be modify their current products to meet these needs (pricing, packaging, and sometimes the product itself.) Even if unit margins are low, thanks to the volume of demand (the bottom of the pyramid is bigger than the top) spectacular profits are possible.

Put in this framework, its easy to understand why Intel is willing to fight so hard for this market. Even if margins are low, the potential market size is huge. Furthermore, Intel's bread and butter market is mature. They've been trying to move up the chain in the conventional PC/laptop market, but haven't really enjoyed great success. Could this be the growth (the next billion PCs) that Intel needs?


Popular posts from this blog

Yup - humans still lack humanity

Every once in a while, I'm reminded that humans can be completely lacking in humanity.

My wife had the following experience yesterday on her ride back home. She got on the train and found a seat. The train was unusually crowded and it looked a lot of people had to stand for a long ride. An elderly Asian gentleman carrying a few things in both hands, was looking for spot, started to complain smilingly about the train being so full and stood in the aisle at the back of the carriage some seats away from her.

She expected someone closer to gentleman in the aisle (lots of younger people on the train) to give him their seat.

No one did.

The train started, and it was clear the man was having a lot of trouble standing up. Then at the next stop there was actually an announcement saying the train was full so please give up your seats to people who needed them.

Still nobody moved.

My wife got up walked to the end of the train and asked the gentleman to go over to her seat. She still couldn&#…

Whimsy when I changed my profile picture...

I changed by profile picture at work.

Later in the day, two people on my team had changed their profile pictures to these.. :-)

It made my day!

I changed my profile pic again today. Let's see how fast anyone catches on this time. :-)

Everyone's struggle is real... at the very least to them

A couple of weeks ago, while in line waiting to pick up some food I'd just ordered, I overheard two conversations - I don't make a habit of this, but it's hard to not hear things when you leave your phone behind. :-/
My first reactions as I heard both of these conversations was annoyance at the protagonist in one and admiration for the other. Both conversations stayed with me for a while, but it took me some time to realize that was unfair on my part to be annoyed at the person that I was annoyed at.

So about these conversations:
The first was between someone working there and a friend. She was sympathizing with her friend who'd be starting a new job leaving this place. "Oh, it's minimum wage again?", she said with concern in her voice. "Yes, but it's fine", said her friend. The job was closer to where she lived so she thought she'd make about the same and she might get home a little earlier to her daughter some evenings though the hours…