Feeds

MS launches 'unlimited potential' campaign

The big picture on the 'next five billion'

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

Comment Microsoft has announced its Unlimited Potential campaign - with a sub headline of "The Next Five Billion". This number points to the number of people as yet untouched by general computer technology, with only around 1.2 billion people on the planet currently having such technology available to them.

With multiple offerings hidden under the main banner, Microsoft seems to be providing "commercial philanthropy" - a very low cost of entry to the target users, but also in a way that provides revenue with margins to the mothership. As an example, governments in qualifying environments will be able to license a Microsoft stack (operating system and software) at a cost of $3 per student.

By doing this, the theory goes, Microsoft will turn out adults who are more used to Microsoft than the alternatives - and local commercial organisations will probably opt for buying Microsoft products to tap in to this available skills base.

However, an area that has to be watched here is the overall global sustainability of getting technology to people who are disenfranchised through existing distribution models. The West went through massive changes in the 19th century as the industrial revolution progressed, with mass migration from the rural economies to the cities.

Many of the people moving from the country to the cities found their situation did not improve - life in a country hovel was often better than the day to day struggle to survive in a city slum. The move would also have had an impact on the agricultural output of the rural economies but luckily the agricultural revolution had already replaced a lot of manual resources with automated ones, so providing a ready base of workers for the industrial needs.

If we look at the relentless pace of the technical revolution in certain emerging economies we see something remarkably similar - cities such as Mumbai and Pune in India and Beijing and Shenzhen in China have become the technology magnets, attracting people from surrounding towns and villages towards a promise of wealth in the technologically advanced centres.

Again, this migration has bred large shanty towns and/or low cost, low quality housing for the people who thought the cities would provide them with wealth - but find that if they can find a job, the wages paid do not make up for the increase in their cost of living. Worse, the loss to the agronomy of the country is not being offset to the level that the West managed and the pace of change is happening over the space of a few years, rather than the decades the industrial revolution took. With the West having a degree of dependency on the agricultural output of many of the emerging economies, any failure in the agronomies of these countries has a far-reaching knock-on effect.

It becomes incumbent, therefore, on technology vendors to be careful in how they approach these markets. The creation of specific technology centres within many countries will lead to destabilisation of the supply and demand of basic staples and to unsustainable use of resources, first at a local level but rapidly growing to a country, regional, and then global level.

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!
Grim diversity numbers dumped alongside Facebook earnings
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
Bose says today IS F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.