The Race to Wire Brazil

The $100 laptop (previously covered here at Global Voices) isn’t the only contender out there designed to bring personal computers into the lives of a broader spectrum of Brazilian society, as a spin around Brazilian blogs will attest:

O Velho introduces Microsoft’s recent launch into the Brazilian mass market. In a deal with a huge department store called Magazine Luiza, they’re releasing a consumer machine with an unusual payment plan:

“The machine will work more or less the way pre-paid cell phones do: to use it, you have to buy a card that enables you to use the machine for a set number of hours.”

But “Hell Cyberdeliah” crunches some numbers, and he thinks that they don’t add up—free software on commodity hardware is a better deal, in his opinion:

“R$48 would come out to 48 hours of computer use, after the credit runs out the “system” stops working, and the owner has to buy new cards until the price listed in the agreement is reached.”

His tabulation:

  • Cost of the same machine in any mass-market store with free software: R$1200.
  • Total cost of a “pre paid” machine: R$3000

A bit of digging around in Brazilian online stores will prove that you really can get a preinstalled Linux box: R$999. And guess where? At the same place selling the Microsoft machines, Magazine Luiza!

But it seems that the low entry price of the Microsoft offering has won over a fair number of Brazilian consumers: Michel Lent Schwartzman at ViuIsso? (“Did you see that?”) describes just how quickly those Microsoft “Connected PCs” are selling—15 thousand Microsoft PCs sold in 13 days.

fofinhopil, on the other hand, reminds us that with a sense of humor you can sidestep all those decisions, and create your own PC… with common household items!

“After the computer for millions, the government created another way hahahaha of popularizing computing in Brazil. What did they do? Easy. They proposed a simpler way to make your own PC. And wow, did that ever work out hahahaha.”


  • The $100 million laptop, actually. To get one, you have to spend $100 million. :-)

    Interesting about the comparison of Microsoft and Linux boxes. I’m not too familiar with the geography of Brazil, I’m wondering how much of Brazil is covered here. Is this indicative of one city, or all of Brazil?

  • […] After reading and translating a bunch of blog posts to prepare for writing “The Race to Wire Brazil” at Global Voices Online (not to mention hanging out with a two wacky Paulistas in London, I’ve found myself getting interested in Portuguese again. […]

  • Good one, Patrick. I love that photo. Still, I read recently in the Folha de S. Paulo that the market share of pirated PCs from Paraguay remains as high as 60%-70%, despite news footage of smugglers dumping contraband in river on the Paraguay border on Globo’s Jornal Nacional.

    Brazil has been taken off the U.S. blacklist of intellectual property disrespecters, but this is mostly likely a reflection of cosmetic efforts pra inglês ver, rather than the actual reality on the ground. I found a pirated edition of Windows XP for $4.50 on my recent trip without much trouble, despite the ongoing shooting war between the cops and the traditional “pirate” zones near the Av. Paulista in São Paulo.

    The really horrifying thing is to see how retail outlets like FNAC are selling brand-name laptops and desktops for MORE than the retail price you would pay even in an expensive city like New York.

    Stuff to listen to in PT-br:

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