Vodafone brings TV-based internet access to the third world.
Built with emerging markets in mind (it rolls out later this month in South Africa, before moving to the rest of the continent and then on to India), the Vodafone Webbox is described by Vodafone's Patrick Chomet as "the guts of a smartphone" built into a keyboard, with everything not related to data stripped out for simple web access via a television. The hope is to provide internet access for individuals and communities in the developing world who can't afford the expense of a traditional computer.
The Webbox takes a standard SIM card and connects to the TV using an old-school RCA cable. As Chomet says: "you just plug [the cables] into the back of the TV. Just follow the colour codes... [it's] the most complicated thing to do here."
The Webbox comes with a simple version of the Opera browser, which Vodafone reckon will give people good browsing even in areas which only have 2G phone networks. The device will allow browsing, e-mail and text messaging, and will, according to Vodafone, "bring internet to the TV, be that at home for the family, in schools for education or in small businesses to assist local economic growth."
Take a look at the video below for a walkthrough of the Webbox.