Ideas are Cheap - Touch screen device with a browser

Posted by Swaroop C H on November 7, 2008 Filed under: business, startup

Use case

Mom asked me to find out the name of the God in the temple at Gokarna. I just had to visit Wikipedia and find out. She could have done this herself but she's too intimidated by the PC. The same goes for checking movie listings. And so on.


What if there was a simple device that has just a web browser. They keyboard is brought up via the touch screen. It has absolutely nothing else. Then, would she use it?


  • Since we can do pretty much everything on the internet these days other than work with hardware, why not a device dedicated for that? Makes it extremely easy for people to use the internet and hence computers.
  • Can use available WiFi or uses built-in GSM card for internet access
  • For geeks, it is a quick way to use the internet, no need to boot up a full computer.
  • What if you wanted to open a Word document? Well, that's where things like the "Open IT Online" Firefox extension come into the picture.
  • It's different from a mobile phone because it has a much bigger screen. And it won't cost an arm and a leg like the iPhone.
  • The popularity of Amazon's Kindle shows that a reading ebook reader device can become very popular. But why restrict to just books on Amazon? Why not the whole internet?
    • I would love the ability to pace myself and read stuff such as the O'Reilly Safari instead of being forced to sit in one place.
  • With the rising internet penetration in India and the expectation that it will increase much higher, people may not be always comfortable with the small screen of a mobile phone/UMPC nor want to buy a Rs.20K PC, what if there was a device that does the middle ground - a large screen, internet access and, say, <7-8K cost?
    • The cost is not based on reality, just trying to find what would be the right price point.


Bottom line

Would you buy it? For yourself or for someone you know.

(This is a continuation of the "Ideas are Cheap" series).

Update on April 9, 2009 : Here comes The TechCrunch Tablet.


Sayamindu says:

I think the Nokia "Internet Tablets" are designed for the use case you have in mind. The price range, however, of these devices are higher.

Vikas says:

The iPhone/iPod touch has a browser (safari) that is simple to use by people who are intimidated by PC. The access of browser, search on the net and connecting to net (of course you need to be in WiFi zone) are meant for dummies. So isn't the device already in market?

Sharninder says:

Well the iPhone is almost there. Michael arrington from techcrunch also talked about a similar device some time back and is working on a prototype too.

Swaroop says:

@Sayamindu: You're right.

@Vikas: But again, it's one thing that does many. It's still not simple enough IMHO for the use case that I'm thinking about.

@Sharninder Interesting, will look that up.

Gerhard says:

There is something that serves as just an internet access device. It has a nice little keyboard, large screen and boots quickly, It can do WiFi and GSM.

Here's the link:

I,m using one right now to post this :)

Before I forget: thanks for a great site!


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