There’s a very nice post by Nicholas Carr about Newnham Research and Ndiyo.
A key part of our message at Ndiyo has been that the traditional model of ‘a PC under every desk’ was a good one in the 80s and 90s, but it will never be sustainable on a global scale. (We call it the SUV Model of Computing). So we came up with a model that lets us share a PC between several people for a much lower cost than buying one PC each. And because the PC is running Linux, there are normally no extra software licensing costs to be paid when you add extra users, unlike proprietary software, where the licensing costs now often exceed the hardware costs.
The further we move towards web-based services and applications, the less dependent people are on any particular operating system and, as Nicholas points out, the more scope there will be for alternative hardware models. It’s also good for most software companies, too; I recommend Paul Graham’s article The Other Road Ahead if you haven’t read it.