Intel To Seed Developing Markets with $1 Billion
Trying to increase demand for personal computers in India and other emerging
markets, Intel Corp. plans to invest $1 billion over the next five years to
promote the use of computers in schools, cafes and other public spots in developing
The initiative, which Chief Executive Paul Otellini plans to outline on Wednesday,
builds on a three-pronged strategy of increasing the availability of low-cost
PCs, making it easier to access the Internet and getting more computers into
the classrooms in the poorest countries.
The world's biggest chip maker has for years sought to increase demand for
its products by seeding new uses and users of PCs and other electronic devices.
In 1996, when the Internet was largely the domain of hobbyists and researchers,
then-CEO Andy Grove predicted an era when more than 1 billion devices would
"It turns out we're not quite there yet, but we'll be there next year,"
Otellini said in an interview. "That next billion of people are going to
be in an economic strata that today doesn't have access to the PC."
Speaking at the World Congress on Information Technology in Austin, Texas,
Otellini plans to demonstrate a mobile PC designed for classrooms that sells
for less than $400. It will run Microsoft Corp.'s Windows or the free Linux
operating system and offer standard features, including wireless Internet capabilities.
Santa Clara-based Intel, which doesn't plan to sell the device, designed the
machine as a blueprint for its computer-maker customers.
A number of high-tech companies, including Intel rival Advanced Micro Devices
Inc. and software-maker Microsoft Corp., have announced initiatives aimed at
closing the digital divide between developed and developing nations.
Intel's initiative, dubbed the World Ahead Program, is also aimed at helping
more teachers throughout the world include computers and the Internet in their
lesson plans. The chip maker is vowing to give schools 100,000 PCs and provide
training to 10 million teachers over the next five years.
Over the past seven years, Intel has already trained 3 million teachers in
more than 35 countries, Otellini said.
Intel is also trying to make it easier for people in developing countries to
connect to the Internet. Intel Capital, the company's venture capital arm, will
continue to fund Internet access providers and entrepreneurs in low-income regions.
Otellini said the company will focus on a type of connection known as WiMAX,
which delivers wireless access over long distances and is well suited for remote
villages that don't have an established infrastructure of power lines or telephone
Developing countries made up about 38 percent of the world's PC sales in 2005,
Anand Chandrasekher, a senior vice president in charge of sales and marketing,
told analysts last week. He forecast low-income countries to account for about
47 percent by 2009.