Bringing down the cost of internet access in emerging markets

25 Jun 2009

The global demand for low-cost computing and Internet connectivity has only begun to be addressed, and there is still room for innovation in this emerging market. One limitation of current low-cost PCs is the lack of affordable Internet access options for many users. The wide availability of 3G wireless networks worldwide makes wireless an obvious option for Internet access in much of the world.

Kayak is a new PC alternative to make high-speed wireless Internet access more widely available and affordable in emerging markets. It leverages the widespread availability of 3G wireless broadband to bring Internet connectivity to markets where wired Internet access has often been difficult to access or unaffordable. The initiative also addresses the expensive packaged software issue in the PC business model. It reduces the cost burden by allowing users to run pre-installed native applications, free or low-cost applications offered via browser and by wireless service providers.

Figure 1 - Kayak PC alternative

Functionality, connectivity and interface

The Kayak PC alternative includes a reference design and recommended software specifications that will be made available to device manufacturers. Manufacturers can then design a wide range of devices based on the reference design that take advantage of the high level of integration, inherent connectivity and comprehensive functionality. The reference design uses Qualcomm\'s dual-core Mobile Station Modemâ„¢ (MSMâ„¢) MSM7xxx-series chipsets to provide both computing and connectivity. In the future, commercial Kayak-based devices may also be powered by Snapdragonâ„¢ solutions. Devices based on the Kayak reference design will offer:
"¢ A Full-featured Web 2.0-capable browser from Opera Software able to perform at desktop resolutions
"¢ Access via the browser to Web 2.0 productivity applications
"¢ Support for both television sets and computer monitors to be used as displays and/or for a built-in display
"¢ Compatibility with a standard keyboard and mouse for input
"¢ Music player and/or a 3D gaming console functionality

Figure 2 - Kayak connectivity and interface
All the capability of Internet access, entertainment and computing can be offered in a single small console.

Initial Kayak PC alternative units, manufactured by Taiwan-based Inventec Corporation, are available now for carriers to evaluate market-specific opportunities and support end user trials. Device manufacturers may choose to bring the Kayak reference design to market in many different ways, but the platform is inherently compact and flexible. The unit can be very small, or can also have a built-in display. The devices can also function as a music player and/or a 3D gaming console in addition to accessing the Internet.
The final device cost will vary depending on specific designs and capabilities as chosen by device manufacturers, but are expected to be much more affordable than PCs that are then retrofitted with solutions for 3G connectivity.

The broad footprint of 3G networks means that wireless is the answer to Internet access especially in emerging regions. PC alternatives like Kayak can leverage cloud computing over wireless broadband networks, to help bring new areas of the world into the global online community for the first time.

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