"How about a Prepaid computer concept?", asked a junior of mine who has taken up entrepreneurship as his line and is currently experimenting with software for schools. I was a bit skeptical about the idea since I could not think of any other user group other than the final year engineering college students who go hunting for computer systems that they require only for a few months.Now Microsoft has come with the FlexGo software that it plans to load into systems and market the concept across the developing nations like China, India, Brazil, Mexico and Russia. The new programs is aimed at increasing PC usage in the developing world with a new flexible payment program to lower the initial costs of buying a computer and has the backing of chip-makers and software majors alike. Microsoft has this to say on Flexgo :
"Until now, people in emerging markets have faced two formidable financial barriers to PC ownership. The first is the high entry cost in markets without widely available consumer credit. The second is the often high fixed-monthly loan payments required to finance a PC combined with uncertain paychecks from month to month. These obstacles have limited the number of households that could purchase a PC.
Now, with business models enabled by FlexGo, Microsoft is removing these barriers to PC ownership. Microsoft FlexGo makes it possible to lower the entry cost of PCs and let people pay for computers as they use them. This technology supports two models today: a pay-as-you-go model enabled by prepaid cards or a subscription model with monthly payments.
With the products partners can develop using FlexGo, millions of people will now be able to enjoy the benefits of owning their own PC and participating in an increasingly digital global society."
Microsoft's plan is to basically launch a Pay-Per-Use computer in developing markets. The Microsoft FlexGo has two key components. First, there are specially-built PCs powered by Microsoft FlexGo technology that enable pay-as-you-go computing. This is like the pre-paid system where the device too is on rent from the vendor. Second, Microsoft FlexGo includes a provisioning server system that enables payment systems to add usage time to each PC with unique provisioning data. This is the pre-paid system wherein the user only buys computing time form Microsoft and the device is entirely his. For more answers, go here
I however still can't think of any takers for this idea in India unless the entire cost paid by the subscriber to this plan, say over a period of 3 years ( which is the threshold time before various market factors force you to think on an upgrade) is less than or just equals the amount you pay for a new computer. This will give the user an advantage of requesting the FlexGo vendors to replace his old system with the latest upgraded version. If Microsoft is able to tip the scale in this regard, I would be the first to sign up for this plan !!! What do you say ?? Let me know any other areas where the FlexGo system might find immediate adoption in India.