Increasingly, media and online coverage of PC initiatives for education in developing countries have focused disproportionately on the price tag of the computing device. Dell’s EC280 sells for $336; Intel’s Classmate PC is coming in at $249; and the One Laptop per Child program’s XO computer (formerly called the $100 laptop) costs $175. Attention on the price of the PC, however, may ultimately be misleading buyers. The total cost of PC ownership (TCO) also includes standard costs such as support, training and installation as well as often-overlooked expenses such as electricity consumption and insurance which can be significant in an emerging-market setting.
For price-conscious customers in emerging markets, understanding the real price tag of technology purchases requires an assessment of costs over the life span of the product. With more comprehensive TCO analyses, buyers are better equipped to make informed decisions. Corporations seeking to combat apples-to-oranges comparisons between education computing solutions will deepen the discussion to one of total cost of ownership. It is only then that the public discourse will address the true cost of computing devices for the classrooms of developing countries.
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