Vodacom has launched Linkbook, a low-cost compact computer based on the Ubuntu operating system designed to provide users with simple and affordable Internet access.
“Linkbook is the first handheld computer of its kind available globally and aims to broaden web and computer access in emerging markets, tackling the digital divide and enhancing Vodacom’s strategy to make the Internet more accessible to all South Africans,” says Shameel Joosub, MD of Vodacom South Africa.
The Linkbook’s Linux operating system is geared towards a user-friendly web experience; from e–mail to social networking and browsing, as well as basic Open Office. Everything works off the desktop – including shortcuts to popular local online content and e-commerce websites – making it intuitive and simple to operate.
“South Africa is a market eager for more ways to get online," Joosub adds. "We expect that Linkbook will be particularly successful locally due to low PC penetration and we hope that by introducing a low-cost user-friendly Internet-focused computer bundled with 300Mb of data per month, this initiative will help to kick start local economies by encouraging entrepreneurs to create a range of locally-inspired business models and services.”
The Linkbook, which has an embedded SIM card, as well as two USB ports, will be available on a 24-month contract at a subscription fee of R199.00 per month, including a monthly 300Mb data bundle.
"Linkbook is an idea whose time has come," says Mark Levy, co-founder of Linkbook. “It's compact and highly intuitive and will bring easy-to-use wireless internet to millions. The cost of the actual computer to the consumer over the two-year contract period comes in at R40.00 per month. It is a massive step in the direction of the $100.00 computer.”
Levy adds that the market for first-time cmputer buyers in South Africa is huge. "More exciting for us is the fact that we are able to finally bring to market a system that starts to erode the massive digital divide in South Africa, enabling almost everyone to make use of Internet communication."