Intel on Wednesday launched a low-power, rugged PC platform that has been developed to work in rural India’s extreme conditions.
The new platform, called the Community PC platform, includes a Celeron Mobile processor, management software and a specially designed motherboard, said Joydeep Bose, managing director of the emerging markets platform group at Intel India, in an interview Wednesday.
PC vendors in India, including HCL Infosystems of Noida and Wipro of Bangalore, will be making products around the Community PC platform, according to Bose. The pricing of the products would be decided by the PC vendors, he added.
The Community PC’s chassis has been designed to withstand dusty conditions, varying temperatures and high humidity, according to Intel. It has a removable dust filter and integrated air fan to regulate the motherboard’s temperature.
Intel announced last year that its Platform Definition Center in Bangalore was working on a Community PC platform and testing it in Indian villages. The product would be the first of several for the rural market, it said.
The Community PC is equipped with a power supply unit that lets it run off a car battery during a power outage, a very common problem in rural India, according to Bose. Intel will be releasing the Community PC’s product definition and interfaces to peripherals makers so they can develop products that consume less power, Bose said.
A number of multinational and local companies, including Microsoft, have announced initiatives to bring IT and Internet services to India’s rural masses, who account for about 70 percent of the country’s population. Intel and Microsoft also announced last week an “affordability alliance” aimed at bridging the Indian digital divide by offering low-cost personal computers in the market.
Intel of Santa Clara, Calif., also announced Wednesday a program, called Jagruti, to provide India’s rural communities with greater economic and social opportunities through community kiosks set up in collaboration with businesses, government, and providers of Internet and online services. “We are trying to create an ecosystem that will deliver services to rural India, and we already have about 30 partners, including NGOs, application developers and content providers,” Bose said.
Nongovernment organizations (NGOs) and vendors have typically advocated community devices such as Internet kiosks for rural India. The devices would be owned by the community, or run for the community, by a service provider.
-John Ribeiro, IDG News Service
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