The AP has a story purporting that the Simputer project has largely failed in its goals to bring computers to the rural poor in India. The article notes that many local governments prefer to accept donations of computer equipment from Microsoft and other multinational hardware vendors rather than pay for new technology. It’s tough to argue with free.
Indian non-profits and local authorities are clearly stuck with a tough choice. Do you choose a free “hand me down” computer from a Western corporation that is pre-loaded with software, probably with no provision of technical support or hardware upgrades, using proprietary software that can not be modified? Or do you choose a local-grown, inexpensive new computer from an Indian non-profit that comes with open-source, multi-lingual software and applications, with tech support and available peripherals?
Clearly short-term economics trumps nationalism.
Swami Manohar, co-inventor of the Simputer and CEO of Picopeta Simputers, commented simply that “It has not yet reached the rural market in a big way.”