A PC for peasant farmers? China targets digital divide.

Lenovo computer
The Christian Science Monitor reports on how China’s computermakers tap vast rural market with simple tools and local officials’ support.

Lenovo, the world’s third-largest computermaker and China’s best-known global brand, chose China’s northeastern town of Langfang to “launch its assault on the growth frontier for PC sales – villagers in developing countries – and start bridging the digital divide between urban and rural citizens”.

“To tempt farmers into high-tech territory, Lenovo executives explain, they have tried to make their [$199] machine easy to use, cheap, and robust.”

The user interface is quite peculiar:

“Lenovo’s ambitions to tap this trend take the shape of a chocolate-box-sized computer that plugs into a TV screen, controlled by a touchpad keyboard and buttons laid out like a remote control.

Using the machine is more like watching television – a familiar experience for most Chinese peasants – than sitting in front of a computer.

Simple controls take the user around a range of functions from online education and entertainment services to agricultural information portals, and also allows him to choose specific sites or send e-mails and instant messages.”

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