A very enjoyable part of my job is to travel from city to city after a new product announcement evangelizing our new tech. So I’m in the Philippines now and we just saw some cases for sale that have a coin slot where the DVD ROM should be. They are for Internet cafes where 1 Philippine Peso (2-3 US cents or less than 1NT$) will get you 3-5 minutes of time on the PC.
The coin slot device has a little daughter board with a timer on it that cuts power to the keyboard, monitor and mouse when time runs out. So the PC keeps running, you just can’t see or change anything without putting in more money. My first thought was that it must be a waste of time because who could possibly make money at those ridiculously low rates, but then it started to make sense to me because if it was more expensive only vacationers would use the service. With a population of around 95 million people, 1 Peso for 3 minutes means that a vast majority of the population can afford to access the Internet. It’s brilliant!
These coin operated PCs can be found in Internet cafes as well as convenience stores where the shop owner benefits from profit sharing. So if you’re ever in the Philippines and see one of these strange looking systems, toss in a coin because you’d be driving small business that allows under privileged young people to access and experience the wonders of the Internet.