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Gates proposes cellphones as alternative to OLPC

Marc Perton

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Looks like it's getting harder to separate Bill Gates the aggressive monopolist from Bill Gates the saintly man of the year. While hobnobbing with the world's elite at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last week, Gates (pictured above at CES) proposed an alternative to Nicholas Negroponte's vaunted $100 One Laptop Per Child program: cheap smartphones that could be used as computers. According to reports, both Gates and Microsoft CTO Craig J. Mundie talked up the idea of a specially designed smartphone that could be connected to a TV and keyboard, turning it into a full-fledged computer. "Everyone is going to have a cellphone," Mundie said. While we have no doubt that Gates is sincere in his desire to help get the world's poor connected, reports also point out that he was disappointed that Negroponte chose Linux for OLPC -- even after Gates offered an open-source version of Windows CE to power the laptop. A Windows-powered smartphone could get Microsoft back into the game and assist the man of the year with his efforts to help the downtrodden.

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