Let no surfer be left behind
Dear people at Apple, Microsoft, Google and other assorted software companies, I hope you watched the opening ceremony of those games in London. And I hope you watched that part where people from different countries walk around holding their country flags. Have you seen those people from Djibouti? Never heard of it? What about Palau? Or the other 200-odd countries, that are not like the US, the UK, Japan, Germany? Have you ever thought about them? Or about us Indians?
Let me explain. Last week Apple released its latest version of OSX, called Mountain Lion. Unlike Lion, the earlier version which was available as a bootable USB, the Mountain Lion is available only on the Mac App store as a download. Keeping up with Apple’s policy of making their operating systems dirt cheap, it is available for $20. So the moment it hit the app store, I hit the download button. It was a 4GB install, and if you are sitting in NewYork or London, maybe it would take an hour or two. The problem was that I was in a city in South India. By Indian standards it is a small city, but is bigger than some European countries. Fifteen minutes after I hit the download button there was a power cut which took my WiFi down. And the 15 minutes worth of downloaded software was gone. So I hit the download button again once the lights came back on, and an hour later, there was another power-cut. Three hours later when the power was restored I hit the download button again. Half-an-hour and gone. In the end it took me 15 hours to download Mountain Lion. And since my ‘unlimited’ broadband from BSNL comes with a download limit after which the speed is throttled, now I am browsing the cyber waves at a meagre speed of 256KB which I will have to do for another 15 days.
To add salt to the injury, a few days after my ordeal Google announced its newest project of supplying the American city of Kansas with a broadband of 1GB per second. “1GB per second”. Now I understand why you engineers sitting in your posh offices in Silicon Valley think it is okay to do away with physical media like DVDs, and why you are moving everything to the cloud. Now I understand why Microsoft wants to sell digital copies of Windows 8 and thinks most of its customers will buy them instead of physical copies.
What you people with your fancy laptops, superfast Internet, and Starbucks lattes should try to understand is that 90 per cent of the world do not live like you. You have to understand that 90 per cent of the world has problems like slow or no broadband. That most villages in India are lucky if they have electricity for more than five hours a day. That most of us still use computers that are so old that they can be sold on an antique roadshow.
We understand that you people want to move forward. We understand that you people want to do away with physical media, to move everything to the cloud, to access anything anywhere on any device. But please understand that in the process you are leaving us behind. Don’t believe all the crap about ‘Super Power’. We are in the Middle Ages. Don’t leave us behind.
An average Indian.
The author is a tech geek.