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The Race to Wire Brazil

Categories: Latin America, Brazil

The $100 laptop [1] (previously covered here at Global Voices [2]) 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 [3] 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 [4]” 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:

A bit of digging around in Brazilian online stores will prove that you really can get a preinstalled Linux box: R$999 [5]. And guess where? At the same place selling the Microsoft machines, Magazine Luiza [6]!

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 [7].

fofinhopil [8], 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.”