mm099: A $99 Desktop Comes With Software, Backup and Too Many Catches

MUDGE’S Musings

A few posts ago, we looked into the One Laptop Per Child laptop. Walter Mossberg of All Things Digital blogroll2 and the Wall Street Journal took a look at what might be construed as the first world’s version…

All Things Digital

Personal Technology

A $99 Desktop Comes With Software, Backup and Too Many Catches

Published on August 9, 2007
by Walter S. Mossberg

For just $99, you can now buy a desktop computer that’s preloaded with full versions of 20 popular types of software. This computer comes with free, automatic, online backup of your files, and a design that cuts energy use way below that of a standard computer.

It gets better. This new PC, called Zonbu, from a new company of the same name, automatically receives free updates of its software when new versions come out. It doesn’t require antivirus or other security programs because it runs on the Linux operating system, which has attracted very few viruses or spyware programs. And it takes up almost no room — it’s a tiny little box.

The full article has an excellent video from Walt Mossberg. Check it out:

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

A $99 Desktop Comes With Software, Backup and Too Many Catches

And, it’s green! This year’s buzzword.


Zonbu is an interesting shot at a subscriber model for computing — pay for what you need, as you go. It’s not there yet, as they are asking for a 2 year subscription with payment in advance, but it’s a first step.

Competition will fix that. The cellphone people have figured out how the subscription model subsidizes the hardware, especially for commodity instruments.

Although based on Linux (and MUDGE is certainly not there yet) much of the included software, especially Firefox and OpenOffice MUDGE has long since adopted for personal use in his Windows system.

And the software that’s missing, like a personal finance package? I’m sure Google has one of those, or will have soon, on line like its office suite package. Would I like Google to keep my personal finances on line? Hell, no! But, it’s a concept.

Mossberg concludes:

I strongly support Zonbu’s goals of making computing simpler, cheaper and more energy efficient. But this product has too many compromises.

So, it’s officially a trend.

  1. Cheap hardware components undoubtedly sourced from (where else) China.
  2. Linux (open source) operating system, which has the bonus of not yet serving as a target of opportunity from all the East European hackers and criminals out there.
  3. Open source software installed, even in Linux versions having achieved some critical mass of acceptability.
  4. Memory, and I’m certain soon, and software available via Internet access. Network computing taken to its next logical step.

One Laptop Per Child (remember, it gets lots of its power from its hive network) for the third world; Zonbu and its certain to be improved successors for the first and second.

Maybe someday, even MUDGE will pay less than $1200 for a PC. Never happened yet, since as prices per component go down, the sheer number of additional must-have components seems to have kept the price level, or growing. Maybe this paradigm shift will finally break that pattern.

It’s it for now. Thanks,



11 Responses to mm099: A $99 Desktop Comes With Software, Backup and Too Many Catches

  1. mrzonbu says:

    I dunno Mudge.

    I’ve barely turned on my $1200+ desktop for a week, since I got my Zonbu.

    It can’t do it all, but it is my day-to-day desktop at home now.

    I wasn’t sure if it would work so I went ahead and ordered one. I’ve been relatively pleased, although it needs some more polish.

    I’m blogging about it here

    -Mr Zonbu

  2. mudge says:

    Hi, Mr. Zonbu,

    I did read your blog, and I’m intrigued.

    But not yet convinced. An awful lot of “inside baseball” there, which is good for you and me, but not for people looking for that inexpensive (toaster like — plug it in, put bread in and make toast) applicance.

    But, I’ll keep reading.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  3. […] written here before (also here) about efforts to create inexpensive computers: the initiative to further democratize education by […]

  4. Michael says:

    Very good article. Thanks for the good information!.

  5. mudge says:

    Michael, thanks for stopping by, and taking the time to comment. Much appreciated!

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