Prepaid Computing

Using small-dose financing, Microsoft's FlexGo is attempting to make computers available to more consumers in developing countries.

Customers will pay approximately half the price of a computer upfront. Usage is paid by the hour, and after a few hundred hours of use, the user will own the pc outright. Like prepaid cell phones, consumers buy prepaid cards with a code that gives them access to the pc for a certain amount of time.

Microsoft is primarily targeting consumers who already use computers at work or school, but can't afford to buy their own. Compared to conventional monthly payment plans, pay-as-you-go financing is far more flexible, and allows consumers to scale down their computer use if money is tight. Which is a familiar concept for prepaid phones (74% of mobile phones in emerging markets are prepaid), but new for the computer industry.

For more examples of micro-selling to emerging markets, check out trendwatching.com's sachet marketing.

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