Is Kayak the solution?

Will Kayak – the recently unveiled “PC alternative” from Qualcomm – provide a solution to the infrastructure gap in developing countries? The idea this time is to access the Internet wirelessly without a computer via a mobile device that can be hooked up to a TV or computer monitor; it then connects to the Internet over wireless networks (using mobile-phone chips instead of processors).

For sure, in many parts of the developing world, countries suffer from poor or limited land-line networks. Wireless infrastructure is more often than not more allowing emerging economies to leapfrog the costly and time-consuming laying of fibers in the ground.

While original, Kayak will face a number of hurdles. Qualcomms comes a bit late in the game. Intel, Symbian and others have been at work for quite some time to crack the market of “digital-left-aside”. Not to mention mobile operators and equipment makers who are improving their devices to connect to the Internet directly, i.e. without bulky equipment to connect to. Competition will also come from Google with its 03b network – Internet satellite project. Finally, powering the Kayak system (station + monitor/TV) will require a significant amount of electricity, in comparison to a mobile phone, a commodity that doesn’t always come easily and in a reliable manner.

Priced at USD 399, it remains to be seen if Qualcomm’s first attempt to step outside of its traditional business will prove a success!