Bill Gates slams 100-dollar charity laptop
Mar 16, 2006, 22:07 GMT
Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates talks at a \'World Leaders Forum\' organized by his company, Wednesday, 15 March 2006, at a Virginia Hotel. EPA/-
San Francisco - Bill Gates, the world's richest man, has poured scorn on a revolutionary new 100-dollar laptop designed for the world's poorest children, sparking off a storm of condemnation in cyberspace.
Gates' comments came in a speech in Washington on Wednesday in which he touted a much more expensive mobile laptop recently unveiled his own company, Microsoft, reports said Thursday.
Gates predicted a bright future for mobile computers and phones but scoffed at the 100-dollar machine being developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) media guru Nick Negroponte for use by children in the developing world.
The devices, backed by Microsoft rival Google, were unveiled at a UN conference last year. They include a hand crank to power the units off the electricity grid and a mesh networking device to allow people to share information and Internet connections.
'The last thing you want for a shared-use computer is for it to be something without a disk, and with a tiny little screen,' said Gates.
'If you are going to have people sharing the computer, get a broadband connection and have somebody there who can support the user.'
Gates also blasted the crank system that can provide some of the laptop's power. 'Geez, get a decent computer where you can actually read the text and you're not sitting there cranking the thing while you're trying to type,' he said.
Gates, who was named as the world's richest man this month with a 50-billion-dollar fortune, also told the Government Leaders Forum that phones would soon become 'digital wallets' that store and coordinate personal information for everyday use.
He showed off an ultra-mobile computer Microsoft developed together with Samsung that will cost between 600 to 1,000 dollars.
His comments sparked protests on technology news sites, with Cnet.com saying the remarks showed that Gates lacked basic understanding of public relations.
'Does this not underline how out of touch Gates is with the real world?' asked one respondent on its message boards.
'Gates needs a reality check,' said a reader on VNU.net. 'Mr. Gates should go to the towns where these laptops are headed to see what conditions are really like. Hand cranked power is essential in places with limited or no electricity.'© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur