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Innovation

Mar 29, 2004
Is India’s Simputer bad for industry?

The scientists have formed a company—PicoPeta Computers—in Bangalore and are poised to become the first shining examples of an academe-incubated entrepreneurs. The product is renamed Amida which means ‘unbounded’; rarely has there been such an understatement. It will be manufactured by Bharat Electronics Ltd [BEL] in India.

Amida will stun users of Handspring, Palm, Clie, Pocket PC and the like. Its browser is full-fledged, not some dumbed-down version. Among its bundled applications, there is that exciting Katha, which is a ‘sticky’ with spreadsheet features. Now, where will you find an equal to that? With its development kit, Amida will keep application developers busy for years.

Implications of Amida, in a country like India are enormous. Bill collectors, data loggers, health workers, educators, small and big businessmen, salesmen, researchers, householders and bureaucrats will all find uses for an Amida. With customisable hardware and software, continuous upgradation of firmware and falling prices, Amida could be the digital bridge that is good for decades.

The price is also right. At this pre-volume point in time, it starts at Rs.9950 [-a premium, colour version is Rs.19,950] and there is every possibility of price halving in three years.

Maybe we are wrong. Amida may not be a threat to just PDAs. After all, it is more than a PDA; it’s a computer. So it may threaten even PCs. No surprise that India’s President A P J A Kalam --a Linux faithful-- is excited: he put in a call during the product launch on Mar 26, and checked out on features. He’s probably exploring one now. For, he is a man who can see the future.

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