In less than a decade, we've gone from a world where wired desktop PCs were the prevailing technology to one where notebooks, smartphones, and tablets can allow all of us to communicate wirelessly through the cloud. With every passing moment, information technology (IT) becomes more abundant, more affordable, and more capable. Today's average mobile phone has a thousand times the computing power of MIT's most advanced computer in 1965, but is one millionth the cost.1 With such advances, we're more plugged in, and more empowered by technology than ever before.

We are in the age of ubiquitous computing, a phenomenon familiar to many living in the United States, Europe, and Japan. But recently, there's been a surge in IT use in other locations worldwide. China now has more Internet users than any other country—359 million in 2009 and expected to grow to 566 million by 2013.2 And India has the fastest-growing population of Internet users, expected to double in the next few years.2 Over the next four years, there will be an estimated one billion new PCs in the world, with most sold in rapidly developing countries such as Brazil, Russia, India, and China.3

These trends point to approximately a billion new people who will gain access to technology in the very near future. Some of these people are the more than 70 million individuals joining the middle class each year.4 Others live on less than $2 a day.

Reaching out to the next billion IT users represents a significant business and global citizenship opportunity for HP. We're responding on many fronts: by innovating to best serve the needs of this diverse customer base, reducing the environmental footprint of our products, and empowering all of our customers—both the current billion and the next—with IT that helps them connect and improve the way they live and work.

Making technology more simple, relevant, and affordable

IT developed for western markets doesn't always meet the needs of people living in developing regions. To reach these customers, HP is going beyond activities such as placing a local-language keyboard on an existing product. We're shifting how we develop and design products, especially in emerging markets, striving to ensure that they are relevant to the needs of specific customer groups.

The HP DreamScreen400 —developed specifically for the Indian market—exemplifies our new approach. To design the HP DreamScreen400, we interviewed 2,600 people in India to understand the barriers that keep them from purchasing and using a PC. We found that affordability of IT isn't the main issue; it's the complexity. A key factor behind low PC adoption rates in India is that many perceive PCs to be complicated to use. Unlike a camera or mobile phone, for instance, knowing how to use and navigate the menus of a typical PC isn't immediately obvious. People said they wanted an easy-to-use device to connect directly to the content and services most relevant to their lives.

We then spent three years working closely with about 200 Indian families to test a product prototype and refine the user experience. The result is a web-connectable touchscreen device that is intuitive enough for every family member to use—even first-time technology users. In addition, the HP DreamScreen400 can provide a connection to content and online services that are relevant to the Indian market—such as Bollywood movies, streaming religious services, and travel and bill payment services—with an interface that lets them navigate in either Hindi or English, a must-have for bilingual Indian families.

Simple, affordable, market-specific solutions like the HP DreamScreen400 represent a new way for HP to serve the next billion customers and deliver a world of new experiences.

Providing access to information—anytime, anywhere

As common as smartphones have become in some parts of the world, they still represent a small portion of the overall global market. In fact, many of the mobile phones sold today still lack features such as web browsing and email.

HP is bridging the gap by providing people access to the Internet via a basic mobile phone—no Internet connection required. A revolutionary new cloud service called SiteOnMobile, developed by HP Labs, allows people to surf web content via short message service (SMS) and voice commands. Instead of delivering a complete webpage, SiteOnMobile delivers short bits of content relevant to the user's task.

HP technologies such as SiteOnMobile open up new possibilities for potentially millions of people. Now, a farmer in rural Ethiopia can use her mobile phone to access commodity prices for her crops, send money to relatives electronically, book a train ticket, or check the weather forecast—activities that would have been difficult or impossible for her just a few years ago. For this farmer, HP technology helps clear a path to personal empowerment and financial independence. In the hands of many, it can drive economic growth for entire communities.

Helping people understand and use technology

Reaching a billion additional people is about more than developing new devices and providing more services. It's also about teaching people the skills to make the most of the opportunities technology offers.

Consider Tsedilin Arkadiy, a 41-year-old entrepreneur from Rybinsk, Russia, with a paper recycling business. Arkadiy took courses offered through the HP Learning Initiative for Entrepreneurs (HP LIFE) , a global training program that helps students, aspiring entrepreneurs, and small business owners acquire the IT skills they need to establish and grow their businesses. He learned to use the Internet to access rapidly changing supplier pricing lists, enabling him to price his services more competitively, and market his business effectively online. As a result, his business grew enough that he was able to build a new warehouse.

HP LIFE makes many of the same resources available to those out of the reach of the program's physical training centers with LIFE City, an online portal that offers hands-on resources and tools. Designed as an animated city, the portal allows users to learn and practice business skills though role-playing games, and provides training on common software used in marketing, finance, operations and management, and business communications. Available in Chinese, Czech, English, French, Polish, Russian, and Turkish, LIFE City has received more than 42,000 visits since its launch in 2008.

Technology, and the know-how to use it, gives individuals—virtually anywhere in the world—the tools to improve their own lives, run successful businesses, and fuel economic growth in their communities.

Reducing the environmental footprint of technology and beyond

As more and more people gain access to technology, more energy and resources are needed to create, transport, and power that technology. Consequently, greenhouse gas emissions from the IT sector are predicted to increase over the coming years—from 500 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) in 2008 to 1.4 billion tonnes in 2020.5

At a minimum, we must design IT to be as energy- and resource-efficient as possible. At HP we've been focused on this for years. As a result, customers have saved 1.4 billion kilowatt hours of electricity through 2010 due to improved energy consumption in our high-volume desktop and notebook PC families, relative to 2008.6 And we're reducing the amount of raw materials used in our products. In fact, we've manufactured more than 1 billion ink cartridges that contain post-consumer recycled plastic.7 Of these, more than 800 million were manufactured with recycled plastic from the HP "closed loop" ink cartridge recycling process. The first of its kind—this process combines recycled HP ink cartridge material with other material such as recycled water bottles to create new Original HP ink cartridges.

But reducing the impact of IT products is just the beginning. IT can also be used to transform our world. By embedding IT into the world's infrastructure—our transportation systems, utility grids, and entire cities—we can monitor environmental conditions, align resource supply with demand in real time, and reduce waste and inefficiency. We can also use IT to replace outmoded systems with more productive and sustainable alternatives, such as using HP Visual Collaboration for a face-to-face meeting instead of traveling across continents. IT is also a means to help the next billion IT users, as well as current customers, understand their own environmental impact and provide them the information they need to make environmentally responsible choices. To learn more about HP's commitment to environmental sustainability, see our essay, Energy unlocked.

Improving the lives of people worldwide

At HP, we believe technology is a driver of social progress, environmental sustainability, and economic opportunity. We're committed to helping individuals everywhere use technology to connect and create a better world.

  1. 1 Q&A: Kurzweil on tech as a double-edged sword, CNET,
    http://news.cnet.com/8301-11386_3-10102273-76.html,  accessed December 14, 2010.
  2. 2 IDC's Worldwide Digital Marketplace Model and Forecast, 2009.
  3. 3 Worldwide PC Adoption Forecast, 2007 To 2015. Forrester, June 2007.
  4. 4 The Expanding Middle: The Exploding World Middle Class and Falling Global Inequality. Goldman Sachs, July 2008.
  5. 5 Smart 2020, The Climate Group, 2008.
  6. 6 Energy savings calculated by comparing average 2008 HP product ENERGY STAR® TEC (typical energy consumption) value to average 2010 HP product ENERGY STAR TEC value multiplied over 2008 volume.
  7. 7 Many of HP's ink cartridges with recycled content include at least 50% recycled plastic by weight. Exact percentage of recycled plastic varies by model and over time, based on the availability of material.