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The Simputer finally arrives

Peter Rojas

simputerWe've been hearing about the Simputer, a PDA designed for use by the world's poor, for years and years now, and it's been delayed so many times that you've gotta wonder whether it was such a good idea in the first place. Well, finally the first ones, manufactured by Picopeta, went on sale in Bangalore, India yesterday. The Simputer has specs that sound about standard for a mid-range PDA: a 206MHz processor, 64MB of RAM. The big differences are that it runs a special version of Linux that can run on voice commands (most people using the Simputer will probably be illiterate), and it uses regular AAA batteries, since finding a place to recharge can be tough. With its high cost of about $220 (which can be equivalent to an entire year's earnings for many people in the developing world; the idea is that villages will pool their resources to buy them) is there enough of a market for the Simputer, especially considering that an off-the-shelf Palm or Pocket PC can be had for under $200 (or even under $80)?

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