Vodafone Releases Webbox $100 Web-Surfing Keyboard For Emerging Markets

Emerging markets need the Internet. Whether they’re looking up commodity prices or contacting loved ones overseas, users in developing countries like South Africa and Ghana need a way to get online and this unique device from Vodafone looks like a logical and quite elegant way to do just that.

The device is a keyboard with a standard set of RCA cables sprouting out of the back. You plug it into any TV, new or old, and turn it on. Instantly you have 2G or 3G access to an Opera Mini browser, locally relevant news, as well as games, a dictionary, and a text editor. Instead of a PC, a user would plug this in and use it as necessary, downloading data at 90% compression.

Of all the devices like this I’ve seen, the One Laptop Per Child project included, this one makes the most sense. It clearly just “works” out of the box and the size and form-factor are excellent. It’s basically a small, flat cellphone inside of a keyboard and given the prevalence of cloud-based services, this is an excellent, inexpensive solution to a thorny problem.

The device will cost R749 (about $100) with 2GB SD card, prepaid SIM, and 100MB of data.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_gZuo_nRrA&w=640&h=390]

Product Page via Cellular News