Google Introduces Tablets

Remember our article from last month regarding bringing more widespread, useful internet access to Africa? If you missed it, go ahead and read it here. There's no question Africa could gain much from an improvement and expansion of their internet service. Africa Google Introduces Tablets

In that article, it was mentioned that Google was hard at work coming up with a solution alongside other companies. Well, on May 30, the company announced on their blog the first TabletCafe in Senegal, certainly a step in the right direction!

The TabletCafe

The Equinox cybercafe is located in the Medina neighborhood of Dakar. It offered computers to customers for the charge of $0.60 per hour, the standard rate for typical Internet cafe service. However, as tablets are easier in terms of overall Internet experience for those people who've never used the Internet before, 15 tablets are set to replace these desktop computers. The goal: bring users a new way to connect to the Internet, while at the same time keeping costs related to electricity down for the cafe. A win-win!

With tablet shipments expected to exceed those of PCs by 2015, it's a good, innovative move by Google that further boosts the tablet market. At the same time, they are introducing a concept that will save the cybercafes money in the long run, keeping them from shelling out money on more expensive desktops and equipment.

How It Works

Users can rent their tablet and take it to a comfortable chair or sofa to browse the Internet. If they want to do more, the standard booth is available, where they can conduct a video chat or hook it up to a docking station in order to utilize a physical keyboard.

Customers are able to download any app they'd like, and don't have to worry about their private information being accessed by the next tablet user: a cafe employee aids them in the process of factory reset, wiping out any and all personal data. Although it might take a little extra time on days there is a waiting period, it shouldn't be a big deal. It's in the name of privacy, and every user will likely appreciate it!

Google Weighs In

In their blog post, Alex Grouet, Business Development Manager for Francophone Africa and Yomi Oyesiku, Program Manager at Emerging Markets Access said, “Our hope is that cybercafes attract new customers interested in a more simple and interactive way of going online, and make significant savings on their number one operating expense: electricity. Tablets consume much less power than desktops or laptops, and don't require ventilation. Among other things, these savings can be reinvested in faster connectivity.”

They have not said whether they plan to introduce this idea in more regions of Africa.

Google Introduces Tablets: A Good Idea?

So is this a good idea, or just a waste of resources? It seems like it would work, but there are those out there that disagree. One commenter said, “It's like a car hire business getting rid of all their cars and only hiring out motorcycles.”

Others weigh in that the PC beats the tablet when it comes to actual work for school or business, but are quick to point out that regardless of this, it's a nice way to introduce the Internet to those who may have never experienced it before as it is less complicated to use. Could the tablet be a gateway to increased Internet use and thus increased knowledge, leading ultimately to an economic improvement in the country?

This is what the hope is, as the original article pointed out. With a better Internet comes a better learning experience. With a thirst for knowledge comes the expansion of the Internet. With the expansion of the Internet comes more web hosting companies, and the web hosting companies will be there to serve the new businesses being created by those who relied on the Internet to learn about the business in the first place.

Do you see the value in providing tablets, or do you think it is a step backwards, as some detractors have pointed out?

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