Companies have been looking at many
different ways to address the need for technology in emerging
markets. MIT has been touting the $100
laptop and Intel has even entered the fray with inexpensive
PCs for developing nations. Microsoft has announced a new
approach to spreading technology to the masses.
The Redmond-based software giant has teamed up with
heavy-hitters in the industry including AMD,
to promote its FlexGo pay-as-you-go technology. With FlexGo,
customers can purchase a PC at a reduced rate and then pay for time
on the PC as they need it using a subscription service, prepaid cards
or tokens. In the case of Lenovo PCs, customers will pay half
of the street price up front, then purchase time on the PC with
prepaid cards. Once a preset amount of hours are
purchased on the PC, the owner takes full possession of the machine
and will no longer need to purchase the prepaid cards to operate the
machine. If more hours are not purchased, the PC moves to a limited-access state until more time is purchased.
FlexGo technology consists of three key
components: a full-featured quality PC with modifications that enable
metering of usage time and protection against tampering, operating
system modifications that allow customers to purchase PC time in
small increments, and a provisioning server system that validates the
payment and delivers payment packets to the PC.