The people’s PC project, formally known as the ICT PC Project, revolutionized the Thai PC market, and its effect is being felt around the region. The Ministry of ICT aims to sell 700,000 PCs and 300,000 notebooks in the first year of the project. To make the PCs affordable, the government has insisted that computer makers offer the machines at fire-sale prices — $250 for PCs and $400 for notebooks, including the software.
The government did invite Microsoft to participate in the project, but the company initially refused to lower its prices. Microsoft has a long-standing policy of charging the same prices throughout the world, which could help explain the widespread piracy in developing markets like Thailand, where the average annual income is about $7,000. Charging Thai consumers nearly $600 for Windows/Office is the equivalent of charging U.S. consumers $3,000.
… Microsoft’s newly appointed regional general manager, Andrew McBean, no doubt having consulted Redmond, offered to supply the ICT PC Program with the Windows/Office package for a mere $37 — a price cut of 85 percent.
Looks like the Linux-based machines are popular, too:
The rock-bottom prices — and easy financing terms — generated enormous interest in the ICT PCs. An estimated 35,000 people showed up at a Bangkok convention center where the machines were launched. Some people even camped overnight to sign up for the program. By August of this year, Thai consumers had snapped up 300,000 ICT PCs.