I just noticed a comment on our UK TechNet blog about how public cloud could put emerging economies at more of a disadvantage than those in developed countries.
The comment I saw specifically mentioned broadband as the problem as cloud services need internet connectivity. However while in some cases this can be higher than would be the case if your services run in your data centres, this is not always the case. If you think about an e-commerce site running locally the speed your customers see is only as good as your outbound connectivity. However if this service was in the cloud then this problem would be replaced by the speed customers get to that site. Actually in many economies broadband speed is better in the UK - my friend Senthil in Bangalore get 20 Mbs to my meagre 1.5 so who’s deprived here. The other factor is GPRS which is nearly universally available and bypasses the need for landlines for phones and data, and costs and performance will only come down in price.
However there are other barriers to adopting technology in emerging countries apart from pervasive internet connectivity, for example:
The cloud takes all of this away and providers like Microsoft can choose to make its offerings affordable to these emerging market to stimulate new markets or out of a sense of citizenship.
So I don’t see this as a problem in fact I think the reverse is true, the cloud will enable emerging market to compete globally for business, and enable health and education programs to run more efficiently.