BIll Gates: Venus Project Announcement

Remarks by Bill Gates
Venus Project Announcement

Remarks by Bill Gates

Venus Project Announcement

Shenzhen, China

March 10, 1999

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[Due to the varying sound quality and subject matter of tapes, the information in this transcript may contain inaccuracies.]

BILL GATES : It’s very exciting to be here this morning to talk about a new product, created in partnership with a lot of leading companies here in China. Our goal is a very aggressive goal, and that is to expose millions and millions of people to computing and the Internet. We believe that a computer connected to the Internet is the most important business and learning tool ever created. And so, as part of our participation in the Chinese market, we have been studying what kind of special products can we produce to grow the usage computers and the Internet.

People will be using the Internet or the Web for an incredible variety of things. They will be using it to get information, they will be using it to buy products, they will be using it to plan trips, they will be using it to stay in touch with people in a way that was never possible before. And we call this approach of using the Internet the “Web Life Style” in the same way that today the TV or the car, or even the phone, are really becoming a standard we take for granted. In the same way, the Internet will be used many times a day. And because of the power of the Internet, it will allow for things that were never possible before. It will be very important both in the work area, where we talk about the “Web workstyle,” and in home, where we talk about the “Web lifestyle.”

If we look around the world, we see that personal computing and the Internet are growing at an incredible rate. Personal computers sold about 100 million units in the last year and that was much faster growth than people expected. Particularly, use in the home market grew very, very substantially. Now, a substantial percentage of those computers are dialing into the Internet. During the last four years, over 15 million new people have connected up to the Internet; and this is just in the United States alone. If we compare that to previous products like radio or TV, we considered this adoption rate to be quite unique. The radio took 38 years to get 50 million users in the United States, and for the TV, it took 13 years. So the Internet is much, much faster, and the impact it will have is much greater.

Worldwide, we have about 150 million active Internet users, and these are people who are using it many times a day. Also, if we look at the traffic we can see that’s going even faster, so not only we are bringing people into using the Internet, but also people are using it are using it more and more for a wider variety of tasks. So we think the benefits of the Internet will be quite incredible. In fact, there will be literally thousands of companies here in China, created to do special work on the Internet. And even more Chinese companies will find the Internet a great way of staying in touch with their customers and providing new products.

However, despite this incredible growth, we are still just at the very beginning. The penetration of the Internet today, as a percentage of the population, is still quite small. The United States has been the market where the Internet has caught on most rapidly, and there we see about 30 percent of the population is connecting up on a daily basis. Well that’s quite good, and I feel sure that in the next few years, it will grow to over 50 percent.

Today all these people have electronic mail addresses, which is an easy way to communicate, and they are using that as a primary way of staying in touch. Not just with messages, but also taking digital photographs of their kids or their vacation, and using the Internet to send them around to stay in touch with friends and relatives. If we go outside the United States, the user percentage drops off quite a bit. Even in Europe, there is about a three year gap between the United States’ usage and what’s going on there, so only about five percent of the population is connected up.

With the Venus project, powered by the Windows CE, various manufacturers will be bringing their Venus hardware into the market in the second half of next year. And already there ahas been some great investments made in chips that will allow Venus to be both very powerful, while continuing to be very lost cost. So this is a very important step for us, I think the best way to understand what we have got and why we are so enthusiastic about this is actually to see Venus and the power of the interface we have created here. So I would like to ask Bruce Ren, who is the group director of the Windows CE product group, to come up and give us all a look at Venus in action. Thank you.

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