India Should Forget Its $35 computer

Going for Cheap: India’s $35 Computer - Digits - WSJ

So, variants of the above article have been running all over the Internet, newsrooms, and blogosphere this week. India has a $35 computer. Great!

Except that they don't, probably won't anytime soon, and likely shouldn't anyway. Shouldn't? Yep, they shouldn't. Yet don't expect any of our journalism corps to ask where, when, how, or why.

Here's my questions, the one our journalist friends won't ask. What do you think?

Does a $35 computer leaves anything for the family of the person producing said computer? Should it?

Consider this: A $35 coffee maker is complicated enough to mmanufacture. It has a case, a coil, and one electronic chip–the
clock. You add a three part pot, a basket, and package it all up and ship it.

A computer, though, must have dozens of chips. Those chips are in turn constructed from gallium-arsenide and silicon and copper and gold and all sorts of minerals which must be pulled from the ground by men who put their lives at risk. Men who have families to feed, house, and educate.

Those minerals must be refined and shipped by smelters and truckers and longshoremen with families. The minerals must be grown into wafers, have other materials deposited on them, then etched away in various long, complex processes. The chips themselves must be packaged; motherboards must be built to host the system; the lot all packaged.

Each of these processes requires intensely complicated machines; machines again designed, built, and operated by people with families to feed, homes to build, children to educate.

Likewise do the display units have their own unique chains of families to support.

Add in all the supporting cast–the shippers who deliver the computer first to India itself (India hasn't the manufacturing capacity), then to the remote areas of that vast nation; the accountants who make sure the miners and technicians and shippers are paid' the support staff who deal with firmware revisions, … that’s a long way to drag out $35!!!

What about these families? The children of all these workers? The Indian Government claims it can drive down the price to $10. What do you think?

Should they?

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