Solar power is no longer a dream. China is cranking out solar modules, huge solar panel assemblies and inverters to bring electrification to more of the world. This has important consequences for lighting, communication and IT. Now, even some of the poorest regions on the planet can afford IT. The simple fact that businesses can operate after sundown will raise the GDP of much of the world enough they can afford small cheap computers with FLOSS on ARM.
2011 saw explosive growth of smart phones but they were far too expensive for much of the world. That keeps changing. After the early-adopters have been saturated, OEMs will produce products affordable by all. Several effects come together to bridge the digital divide:
- solar power is now affordable,
- ARMed equipment is an order of magnitude less expensive than x86,
- Moore’s Law works for ARM, too,
- the move to solar power and wireless communication means emerging markets can skip expensive cabling projects in sparsely populated/poorer regions, and
- post-colonialism brings stability to many regions.
Wintel with its mantra of “upselling” has no place in this new world order. Wintel cannot compete against FLOSS/Android/GNU/Linux on ARM. Leaner OEMs will supply the needed hardware. Local businesses rather than global monopolies will supply IT both hardware, software, and infrastructure. The consequences for government, education, business, and productivity are immense and possibly a force for good in the world. People in poorer regions of the world need to get organized to take charge of their own destinies. Cheaper IT will help them do that. The next few years will have huge rates of change in IT globally. This will likely be one of the biggest stories of 2012 as M$ attempts to get in on the action but fails miserably to compete on price/performance which is critical in such markets.