Presenting the naked Net

What if you could buy a stripped down version of a computer just to surf the Net?

For most people, the Internet and word processing are arguably the two most important features of a computer. So it was just a matter of time before someone gave you a stripped down device that offered that and nothing else. AMD has announced the launch of the Personal Internet Communicator (PIC), which it hopes will revolutionize Internet access, the world over.

And it’s cheap. You’ll be able to get a mouse, keyboard, monitor and enough CPU to surf the Internet comfortably for just $249 (around Rs 11,200). Don’t expect it to be released in the US though. It is targeted in Asia and Latin America, where AMD plans to take the Internet to the masses.

AMD doesn’t plan to market the device itself, but will piggybank on telephone companies and Internet-service providers, which will put their names on the communicator and sell it to you, as part of a bundle with Internet access or telephony. Tata Indicom will sell it as a broadband access device amongst households in India.

But how exactly does it work? The PIC has a 366MHz AMD Geode x86, 128MB RAM, 10GB drive, USB, 56k modem, a host of Internet-centric software. It has Windows CE with XP compatibility, and it can boot in 25 seconds, faster than your average P4. If you already have a monitor, then you can pick up the rest of the PIC for $185 (around Rs 8,300).

Around the same time, Intel launched a first of its kind elaborate localized computer initiative in India. The awareness, marketing, advertising and retail program is aimed at increasing PC penetration in India. The marketing campaign hopes to expand coverage to 30 million households in the country.

(This article appeared in the December 2004 edition of Living Digital magazine)