Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Sub-10k desktop PC?

From CNET Low-cost computing with style? Photo | Story

The people behind Simputer, called Encore Software have come up with the low cost desktop and mobile computing products branded Sofcomp and Mobilis respectively.

There have been plenty of stories across multiple news sites, but CNET provides detailed photographs. I am particularly interested in the desktop variation. If the news is right and the company succeeds in converting the prototype into marketable boxes, it is the desktop variant that will have a large market across India.

CNET article indicates that "The SofComp box with a cathode-ray tube monitor also will cost about 10,000 rupees." However the photograph shown in the CNET site, provided by Encore, shows an LCD monitor. So what you see may not be what you get! If it is a cathode ray tube version, it won't work under the battery. If it needs to work with the battery, it must have to be an LCD display. If a decent sized LCD display is needed, Encore will have to indicate what the price will be.

Whatever it is, I hope this doesn't fizzle out like Simputer did.

I will be watching this product with keen interest.


  1. Badri,
    Although I hv subscribed to your XML feed thru Bloglines I am not getting your new updates. Is there any problem with the RSS feed? Can you please look into it.

  2. Badri,

    IMHO, the Simputer failed to take off as expected because:
    a) They designed it with a price target (ie sub $500) without accounting for the Moore's law effect. Palm and PocketPC were able to sell below the Simputer's price, before the Simputer became available.

    b) It was really a marketing failure. The industrial design was too 'rugged'; and they had very little money to spend. Also, making it sound like it was a poor man's PDA effectively shut off the 'cool' factor.

    The new offerings from Encore look good...hope they hire someone from Apple to handle the marketing.

  3. Nitin,

    It looks like Encore is only interested in design and devleopment, then license the product/idea to someone else to do the marketing. In other words, the revenue stream Encore is looking for is the license/royalty income.

    I am not entirely sure whether such a thing is good in the Indian condition.

    I agree that what is required is a very good marketing set up.

    Also it is important to understand who the target customer is. It is still not clear to me who their target customers are for Mobilis and for Sofcomp.

  4. Hi,

    I just discovered your blog through Satya's Education in India blog, and I am glad I did!

    Coming to Mobilis, who is it meant for? If you look at the discussion in slashdot, there is very little enthusiasm for it there. Even in India, who is going to buy a clunky, low-powered PC for under 10 K, when something similar is available from the regular PC line (I think it is called Apna PC, from Kolkata). So, right now, it is not clear that this one is going to fly at all. Encore has had success with demonstrating its development capabilities; but their ability to actually sell their products is less than inspiring.

    Since I see you as a technology buff, perhaps I can ask you this:

    Have you tried VQube, an internet telephony software from my colleagues in IISc? If so, could you please do a post on it?

  5. I see Mobilis having couple of advantages.

    1. It is battery operated. Thus, in areas with poor electricity supply (which is most of the rural India), a Mobilis will do well than ApnaPC.

    Those with very good electricity supply, namely the city folks will never understand this.

    2. Robustness and ease of use. A PC is too complex a product. It has too many moving parts, two many devices, a complex operating system which takes more time to boot and shut down than a TV etc.

    A Mobilis like product is integrated. No wires. Small and tight. Simpler OS, with most useless features removed. It is NOT a full-fledged PC. And several people in India do not need a full-fledged PC.

    An ApnaPC is not a good enough solution for those who are looking for a good multimedia PC. The poweruser always wants more features in his computer. Though he may compromise his desire by buying a lower costing PC, he will soon get annoyed with his product.

    On the other hand, several other people who are simple users - all they need is browsing, messengering, emailing and basic word-processing, a mobilis like product is more than enough. A PC is far more complex for such an user.


    I have not tried VCube so far.