Friday, July 6, 2007

Raising the Bar on the PC Price Debate

Microsoft and AMD teamed up last week to launch the IQ PC, a desktop computer targeting the education market in India. Using local partners such as Zenith Computers to produce and distribute the hardware, the PC is being piloted in select Indian cities with plans for a national rollout later this year. The computer comes equipped with a basic version of the Windows Vista operating system, an assortment of educational software such as Encarta and Student 2007, and an online content repository. The PC appears to be a well-designed education solution, but with a $513 price tag, Microsoft’s latest effort to join the low-cost PC race is being criticized by bloggers and the press for being too costly for developing countries.

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.

Also in the news:

No comments: