Novatium's $100 thin client PC

Novatium's $100 thin client PC

Summary: At PC Forum Novatium Solutions demoed its $100 PC appliance (without keyboard or display, which adds about $75) for emerging markets. The Nova netPC and Nova netTV are based on thin client (server-based, zero administration for users) and mobile phone technology.

TOPICS: Hardware

At PC Forum Novatium Solutions demoed its $100 PC appliance (without keyboard or display, which adds about $75) for emerging markets. The Nova netPC and Nova netTV are based on thin client (server-based, zero administration for users) and mobile phone technology. "We have the guts of mobile phone and use the business model of phone industry," said Rajesh Jain, co-founder of the Mumbai, India-based company. "We reduce the price of the thin client by about 50 percent, moving away from the Intel architecture, and change the business model to suit emerging market customers." It's like a cell phone in square box and a bunch of I/O ports. 

The core processor is an AMD Analog Devices digital signal processor, rather than x86 architecture, used in cell phones, and works over LAN, Wi-Fi and broadband networks. (After the session an Intel representative was primed to talk to Jain.) The only client side processing is for the display and multimedia, and the maxiumun video display is 1024x768. The device also supports standard I/0 ports and outputs only 5 watts. A future edition could include DSL on the motherboard. Jain expects that the base price will remain steady over time as new features are added and as volume sales increase.


Software is provided at $10 per month, and supports Unix and Windows terminal services. The license for Windows software and terminal services has to be purchased separately, but an open source, Linux-based  desktop stack is available for free. "There is a growing flexibility to look at monthly pricing cycles, including from Microsoft," Jain said. Since few people in many emerging markets pay for software, having server-based subscriptions could reduce piracy, he said. 

Novatium has 20 pilots underway in India, the U.S, South Africa, Mexico, Austrailia, New Zealand and in some European countries. The official product launch is in April, Jain said.  In the U.S., Novatium is working with cable companies, who can also provide the billing infrastructure. The company hopes to grow volumes by attracting existing thin client companies to OEM the device. "The real opportunity is in the annunity business, and we have not decide to work with partners or do it ourselves," Jain said. Service providers could also serve ads on the devices as part of the revenue generation scheme, he added.

Several other companies, including MIT's project to create a $100 Linux, mesh-networked PC, are developing low cost, networked devices. Is it the perfect storm for the networked PC. In my conversation with Wyse Technology CEO John Kish, the answer is yes, but we have heard that before.    

Topic: Hardware

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  • $10 a month???

    "Software is provided at $10 per month, and supports Unix and Windows terminal services."

    Uh, that's $120 a year! You can build a real PC without a hard drive for $100 and you can run Linux on it for free.
    • hexactly

      Yeah, nor the cost of the fulltime connection!:]
      • Or the retraining of people who are addicted to Word...

        Ain't gonna happen.
    • $10 include broadband internet connectiion

      Hi, This includes a broad band internet connection . Today computing is no different than internet. For software you may have to pay may be just a dollar or so
  • Annunity?

    What is annunity - annuity? If so, what does this mean?
  • $175 ? HighSpeed dependant? gimme the MIT laptop!

    The MIT unit, as a laptop with features like a crank generator and builtin keyboard and display, not to mention internal software storage, seems a much better deal to me for real world 3rd world usage.
    I remember on the MIT site they said in many studied locations, the screen would be the brightest source of light in the home.

    Assuming an emerging situation, the constant traffic of thin clients would overload anything less than the most robust net connection.

    For homework & officework & farm planning, etc, the software is not huge and not rapidly changing- it could easily fit on a ROM cartridge...

    What I'm really wondering is how the kids in, say Bangladesh, will be able to afford inkjet cartridges!:]
  • It'll happen. Eventually.

    And hopefully it'll take his job down, like the rest of ours. (won't stop the hackers though, and has anyone ever been reminded of the phrase "Don't put all your eggs in one basket"? Even the Titanic was said to be unsinkable... oops.)

    And all for under $100 thanks to Linux and offshored manufacturing methods. Just wait for the trade embargos to begin. Won't be cost effective then...

    Never mind the broadband connectivity REQUIRED for seamless speed that the users WILL know the difference to. Gigabit will be necessary, and you'll need a lot of servers... and the difference in electricity usage won't be much (it's still a 150W popwer supply, as seen in those cheap HP and Dell plastic PCs...) it is not cost effective.

    And exploitation of a lesser people, combined with the work of hard working volunteers, who never fathomed someone would leech their product for such personal gain... How very Christian. (not)
  • So how was it?

    Dude, don't just tell us he demoed it, tell us what it did and how it performed!
  • RE: Novatium's $100 thin client PC

    i want to buy your product
    dr sameer a shah
  • RE: Novatium's $100 thin client PC

    what are idia for thin pc setup