May 292012

When Cherrypal launched the first $99 laptop in December of 2009 it changed the world for millions of consumers in developing counties and low income groups in the industrialized world. Although the $99 Cherrypal “Africa” was advertised as “Small – Slow – Sufficient” it was exactly what many budget constrained consumers wanted: a “good enough” high-quality affordable laptop.

We live in a fast moving world. Consumer sentiment has shifted from laptops as the “can’t-live-without device” to mobile phones and tablet computers. What will be the next “gadget” revolution in order to make Internet access and mobile communication affordable to everyone? Is it the $99 smart phone (non-subsidized retail price), the $49 tablet computer (or tablet-phone) or a $9 feature phone?

What will drive mobile penetration to 100% on a global basis?


Jan 082012

Yes, the word is out. The Education Wins (Edwin) Foundation is launching the “Tablastic Four” (“Tab4”) program this week.

Consumers will commit to only use ONE device for all their Internet and phone communication needs, temporarily retire their cell phone and laptop computer, and write/blog/youtube/facebook about their experiences. We will thoroughly analyze, form an opinion, learn, make adjustments, redefine expectations, keep trying, it will be a moving target.

I have been called crazy before, no big deal. The “Tab4” project though triggered some unexpected cynical remarks from industry insiders, predicting failure, claiming a tablet with an integrated phone doesn’t make any sense, tablets are not “designed” as “all-you-need” device.

Suppose success is defined by the criteria you apply. Our objectives,  or rather success criteria, are not focused to replace the iPad or iPhone for those who can afford this kind of consumer electronics, rather, to find the “good enough-all-you-need” device for the vast majority of the world population, for those buying a phone and/or computer is a huge investment, and access to the Internet is a life changing event. Failure is the mother of success, let’s see where the journey goes.

Let me elaborate some more on the “Fab4” program.

The “Tablastic Four” program will be divided into small groups of 4 participants. The first group is called “Tab41”, the project will start on Thursday January 12, 2012 and last for 90 days. All four team members will receive the same “equipment” and also use the same cell phone carrier. It is important to us that we compare apples to apples. The participants commit to ONLY use the provided device for the next 90 days. If any of the project members give up or ask for a “time out” ( use a regular cell phone or laptop computer during the 90 days) we will all learn about it.

The plan is to launch the second group in early February, “Tab42”. We might make hard and software changes for future groups, change some “rules of engagement”, but all changes will apply to all four group members in the same way.

After the first groups are on their way we will launch a number of more geographically and user demographically focused groups, like “Detroit only”, “Kenya only”, “Brazil only” “college students only”, “executive users only”, “senior citizens only”, you get the idea.

We will continue to launch “Tab4” groups until all four project team members in at least 4 groups make it to the 90 days finish line and the “perceived user satisfaction” is at least 8 on a scale from 0 to 10.

Last but not least, let me remind you. Main objective of the “Tab4” program is to test an “all-in-one-all-you-need-good-enough” high-quality and inexpensive hardware/software solution in order to make Internet and phone communication available and affordable to everyone and everywhere.

Ready, Set, Go.