World's first 'tablet cafe' opens in Senegal

Can a new tablet cafe transform the Internet cafe model in Dakar?
Written by Tyler Falk, Contributor on

Internet cafes are a popular way to connect to the Internet throughout Africa. For a small fee, you can access the Internet for a certain amount of time. But Google sees it as an outdated model.

Instead the company has sponsored a new concept: the tablet cafe. In Dakar, the capital city of Senegal, Google helped the Equinox cybercafe, formerly an Internet cafe like you'd find throughout Dakar, transform into the world's first tablet cafe, replacing PCs with 15 tablets that are available to customers for the same rate as it used to cost to use the computer for an hour.

Why do tablets make sense in this context, other than just being a novelty way to connect to the Internet? Google explains in a blog post:

Cybercafés would not only attract new customers interested in a more simple and interactive way of going online, but also make significant savings on their number one operating expense: electricity. Tablets consume much less power than desktops or laptops, and don’t require ventilation. Among other things, these savings can be reinvested in faster connectivity.

It's an interesting concept, but even as it will save cafe owners money it's not a solution to the main problem with Internet cafes in places like Dakar: power outages. As one Internet cafe owner explained to Biztech Africa last year:

We don’t have a problem with connectivity or speed here in Dakar, but our major problem is power outages. You can’t make money if the electricity keeps going in and out every time. A lot of people, from travellers to business people, tertiary students, pupils, Skype users and online lovers depend on us.

Tablet might not shut off right away when the power goes down, but Internet connectivity is compromised.

Still, this new tablet cafe works as a symbol for tablets gaining more popularity in emerging markets over PCs. Of the 1.7 billion smart connected devices that will be sold next year, 1.4 billion will be tablets and smartphones and one billion devices will be sold to emerging markets, according to the latest market research.

[via AFP, Google]

Photo: Google

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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