Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Portables Government Hardware Politics Technology

OLPC Says No Plans for Consumer Release 208

Posted by Zonk
from the us-doesn't-have-poor-folks dept.
Gr88pe writes "The One Laptop Per Child product has clarified that they have not made a decision on whether or not to carry out a consumer release of the XO laptop, despite previous reports. From the article: 'OLPC told Ars Technica in a statement that the company has no plans for a consumer version of the laptop. "Contrary to recent reports, One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is not planning a consumer version of its current XO laptop, designed for the poorest and most remote children in the world," said Nicholas Negroponte, OLPC chairman.' They are considering a number of plans, but have made no formal decision."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

OLPC Says No Plans for Consumer Release

Comments Filter:
  • Well, which is it? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LotsOfPhil (982823) on Friday January 12, 2007 @06:48PM (#17582618)
    "Contrary to recent reports, One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is not planning a consumer version of its current XO laptop, designed for the poorest and most remote children in the world," said Nicholas Negroponte, OLPC chairman.

    I thought it wasn't for the really poor people. I thought the laptop was for countries that were sufficiently developed that they could focus on education as opposed to sanitation, starvation, etc.
    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday January 12, 2007 @06:54PM (#17582746) Homepage Journal
      I thought it wasn't for the really poor people. I thought the laptop was for countries that were sufficiently developed that they could focus on education as opposed to sanitation, starvation, etc.

      Uh, education is the only answer to problems with sanitation, starvation, etc. If someone just comes in and does things for you, then you become dependent on them. It's been shown in the past that when you give a lot of food away, people produce less food, people are healthier, people are more able to reproduce... and their ability to produce food is decreased while their need for food is increased.

      But if you instead educate people and teach them the values of sanitation, the dangers of unprotected sex, new methods of food cultivation, production, preparation, and preservation... then you have given them a gift which will benefit them every day, inform their every action, and which they can pass on to their children.

      Education is the only solution to the problems of the third world. We cannot solve their problems for them. Even if we solved every problem we would have created a world full of dependents. If that's really what you want, then by all means focus on just giving the necessities of daily life to people.

      I'm not saying we shouldn't give people food - but what I am saying is that we shouldn't give people food (or anything else) without giving them education and that education is the most valuable gift we can give them.

      • by namityadav (989838) on Friday January 12, 2007 @07:15PM (#17583076)
        I agree completely. Although I am still not sure if I'll be as convinced by your statements if I replace "education" with "laptops".

        What I am trying to say is that although education is certainly the only way to solve the problems in the third-world, I am still not sure if OLPC is the best way to provide that education.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by mrchaotica (681592) *

          What I am trying to say is that although education is certainly the only way to solve the problems in the third-world, I am still not sure if OLPC is the best way to provide that education.

          What you (and everyone else who say this kind of thing fail to realize) is that whether this is the "best" method for giving them education is irrelevant. The people behind this project are hackers -- their area of expertise is computers, so computers is what their project is damn well going to be about! It's not a choic

          • by namityadav (989838) on Friday January 12, 2007 @08:52PM (#17584224)
            Okay, here goes my karma .. but dude, CALM DOWN !! It's not like I've kidnapped your kid for ransom or something.

            The post above mine was talking about how "education" is the only answer to solving the misery in the third-world, not free food or free service for sanitation. And although I agree to his points about education, I don't think that OLPC is a synonym to "education" (YET, at least). And although I definitely approve (Not that it matters) and appreciate the OLPC concept, that does not mean that I think that OLPC is the best way to provide education at this point and time.

            It's like saying that although drinking soda is better than not drinking any liquid at all, but it's still not as good as drinking water.
      • Bullshit (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Your argument is a crock. If someone needs food, they are going to sell that fucking computer. Which makes giving people without food computers: pointless.

        Also, if you want to know who he's talking to, read any other Slashdot post about the OLPC. He's talking to every person on Slashdot who said "you idiot, this isn't for bare-means countries in Africa, it's for countries like Libya and Brazil." in response to anyone pointing out that starving people have little use for a computer. So which is it, Slashdot?
        • Also, if you want to know who he's talking to, read any other Slashdot post about the OLPC. He's talking to every person on Slashdot who said "you idiot, this isn't for bare-means countries in Africa, it's for countries like Libya and Brazil." in response to anyone pointing out that starving people have little use for a computer. So which is it, Slashdot?

          People and countries are two different things. In point of fact, the countries participating in the OLPC project are not the poorest countries in the worl

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12, 2007 @07:43PM (#17583484)
        Light a fire for a man, warm him for a day.

        Light a man on fire, and warm him for the rest of his life.
      • by pclminion (145572)

        I'm not saying we shouldn't give people food - but what I am saying is that we shouldn't give people food (or anything else) without giving them education and that education is the most valuable gift we can give them.

        Because a laptop is the same thing as an education. Okie dokie then.

        • Because a laptop is the same thing as an education.

          The point of the OLPC project is to sell laptops and provide associated content and services to national ministries of education to support their efforts to improve delivery of education.

          No one is saying that the laptop, in and of itself, is (or substitutes for) education; what is being said is it is intended (along with the associated content and services) to improve and facilitate education.

      • Uh, education is the only answer to problems with sanitation, starvation, etc.

        This, unfortunately, is one of the great fallacies of rich countries. If we can just bring knowledge to the ignorant savages, all the problems go away.

        The reality is that education is completely useless is an environment of corrupt governments, gang warfare, civil war, local warlords, etc, etc, who basically steal anything of value. For education to be useful, you first have to have a stable civilization in place. These peop

      • Were these little devices sold to the consumer market, they'd become feature competition devices and the prices would go up.

        But if they are only delivered as sponsored charity hardware, any future design changes can incorporate additional "obsolete" hardware that normally gets "dumped" by the VLSI and hardware manufacturers into secondary or tertiary markets. By shifting that inventory to charity hardware, they get a tax write off, good press, and help out a lot of people.

        Win-win-win-win... there is n

  • by soft_guy (534437) on Friday January 12, 2007 @06:48PM (#17582622)
    One of the more interesting ideas that I have seen is to allow people to buy an OLPC for say, double the price, thus also buying one for a child oversees.

    The part of it that would be of interest to me would be a system that would allow a westerner to just buy one of these for a child oversees.
    • by Rik van Riel (4968) on Friday January 12, 2007 @07:30PM (#17583332) Homepage
      I've seen an early XO machine in action at the office (I'm lucky enough to have some of the XO team as colleagues) and I know I want one for my self, too.

      I would not mind buying two for children overseas - especially if the system of charitable contributions is set up so we end up with a "negative salestax" - but I do not want to miss out on one for myself either.

      The screen may be a bit small compared to what I use on my desktop, but it's got a decent resolution and can be read outside. I want to be able to sit on the deck or in the garden and edit wiki pages, browse the web, listen to music or show stuff using the built-in camera.

      The XO is also much more rugged than normal laptops. You can actually take it outside without worrying about it breaking because of dust or some raindrops. I want one :)
      • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Friday January 12, 2007 @08:00PM (#17583696) Homepage Journal
        how about we round up all these people who want to play with an OLPC laptop and ship them off to one of the pilot nations to train teachers or children how to use it. You get to play with it, the kids get someone to teach them, it's win, win right?

        • I'm there. (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Chimera512 (910750)
          I'm not sure if you're completely serious about doing that and I think its outside of the realm of possiblity for the OLPC people to fund or organize at this point.

          I am very serious when I say I'd consider doing that: sign up for a year or two, have them fly me there (or i'd even pay my own airfair if i end up feeling that strongly about the potential of the project. I'm not that wholly convinced at this point.) Maybe they also get me some kind of formal certifications (like TEFL or something OLPC rea
          • by QuantumG (50515) *
            Well I'm glad I inspired you. You should go get involved, talk to some people in charge, etc. If they don't already have a program for this sort of thing, I'm sure you could get the necessary people interested and hook it up. I guarantee you that world vision and oxfam and the other third world charities have a shortage of IT trained volunteers.

    • by IgLou (732042)
      I would totally buy one, no two, one for each of my kids. Even at double the price it's a fair deal and it would feel great to know that somewhere out there is the twin of that machine that some other child is using.

      I really hope it does become available in developed countries in the way that you mention. I think that's a fantastic way to contribute.
    • The mission here is to give the 3rd world easy access to laptops. While it'd be cool for we well-off to have yet another cheap consumer electronics device, that's not the point and would distract resources and attention away from their mission. Since quantities would eventually be limited, even the one-for-me-one-for-third-world-kiddy idea would mean fewer where they are needed. Longer term, that's a nice idea, but for now best get them where they're needed. You could make an argument that underclasses in
      • by Teancum (67324)

        The mission here is to give the 3rd world easy access to laptops. While it'd be cool for we well-off to have yet another cheap consumer electronics device, that's not the point and would distract resources and attention away from their mission.

        How?

        I don't see how this is really distracting substantial resources, as there are plenty of people willing to volunteer to help set up this "western" consumer edition. And the suggestion to add extra features to meet the needs of the western market IMHO is ludicri

    • by MoxFulder (159829)
      Ya... I really think they should implement something like this. There's clearly a demand for these, even at a price of $200-300. If they don't sell OLPCs in the developed world, there will be a gray market of them on eBay, which will benefit no one except for the shady importers.

      If there's a "buy one, donate one" system, we rich people will get cool toys, and poor kids will get their computers further subsidized. Good for everyone, right?

      I can easily see the OLPC eclipsing the Wii and PS3 as the must-hav
    • I absolutely agree. And make the charity markup ones A DIFFERENT COLOUR. Then a) you can tell I didn't steal it off a kid, or buy it on the black market and b) I get the credit when people see my "Donor Model" OLPC.
  • by User 956 (568564) on Friday January 12, 2007 @06:48PM (#17582628) Homepage
    The One Laptop Per Child product has clarified that they have not made a decision on whether or not to carry out a consumer release of the XO laptop

    So they clarified with ambiguity. Good show.
  • Production (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Friday January 12, 2007 @06:49PM (#17582644) Homepage
    I've heard good arguments for this (more people hacking, less incentive for a gray/black market, buy one for the price of two so the second goes to a kid), but could they be taking this position because of production? After all if they want to give a million of these away and people like /.ers buy 100,000... while that would mean money to give 100,000 laptops away to kids we just bit 10% of their production away. I seem to remember reading somewhere that based on the number they will be giving out it will be one of the top 4 laptop "brands" in the world almost immediately. Perhaps they simply can't spare the production at this time?
    • Re:Production (Score:5, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday January 12, 2007 @06:57PM (#17582796) Homepage Journal
      Perhaps they simply can't spare the production at this time?

      If that is true, then they are probably having problems with production already. Instead of giving away a laptop for each one purchased, they could use that money to improve production capacity, to do research on further cost reductions, or to pay for additional software development. It doesn't necessarily have to be a buy-two-get-one scheme to be useful.

    • After all if they want to give a million of these away and people like /.ers buy 100,000... while that would mean money to give 100,000 laptops away to kids we just bit 10% of their production away.


      They aren't giving any away, they are being purchased by national ministries of education. IIRC, the goal was to get commitments on orders for 5 million before starting production, and has already been exceeded.
  • by JoeLinux (20366) <joelinux@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Friday January 12, 2007 @06:53PM (#17582694) Homepage
    When you have many people purchasing, you can order in larger quantities, and lower prices all around.

    If people demand it, the market should supply it.

    I say we develop a "one child per laptop" organization. It's function would be to convince governments to develop laws mandating that you can only have a child if you have a laptop.
  • Why the hell not, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vespazzari (141683) on Friday January 12, 2007 @06:53PM (#17582712)
    I think plenty of people where happy with the idea of buy 2 get 1. I would love to get my hands on one or 2 of those. It seems stupid to limit your marked to begin with. Unless I am misunderstanding the article, which seems to have to different points going on. I understand that the development is not geared toward the developed world but that doesn't mean that some will not want it.
    • Re:Why the hell not, (Score:5, Interesting)

      by afxgrin (208686) on Friday January 12, 2007 @07:12PM (#17583014)
      I was happy pledging to buy one for 3 times the price, and apparently that's not good enough. I just don't understand the logic behind restricting consumer's from purchasing one. I don't care to own a cheap laptop, i'm more interested in developing software that will operate well on these laptops. The idea is to push the hardware to the limit, as I might want to work with some of these people who will be eventually owning these machines.
      • by Rich0 (548339)
        Relax - no matter what the plans are you'll be able to buy one for 1/5th of cost. Just search ebay a month after they come out. Kids in developed countries will "lose" them and turn a nice profit (since they were free to them to begin with).

        Why they're looking to promote the gray market by not selling retail is beyond me...
        • by rbarreira (836272)
          And what decent people should do is not buy those laptops if they appear on Ebay. If you give them money for doing it, they will keep doing it... The more people buy "stolen" stuff on Ebay, the more they'll steal.
          • by Teancum (67324)
            No, the honorable thing is to have the OLPC folks sell these computers at a price to western nations that would kill any grey market that might eventually develop.

            If the demand is satisfied in the west, the price that can be asked for on Ebay will be so low that it won't be worth the effort.... and the governments who are buying these things will have an economic incentive to try and stop the wholesale theft (presuming they are spending their own money to buy these computers).

            Yes, perhaps a marginal market
    • by DragonWriter (970822) on Friday January 12, 2007 @07:29PM (#17583322)
      Several reasons why not, most notably:

      1. Selling the same model would undermine the social-disapproval mechanism the project hopes will discourage a gray market in the OLPC machines; which is why the program has often said they are looking at making a distinctive derivative version of the machine for individual sale.

      2. The price point is controlled by the fact that they aren't supporting an infrastructure for individual sales/support/etc., only selling to national ministries of education in enormous lots. Paying twice the cost that governments were buying them for in bulk wouldn't be enough to support commercial individual sale and have excess "profit" to subsidize delivering one to the developing world.
      • by martijnd (148684)
        I see a great gray/black market develop -- US$ 100 devices given out by truckload that can be resold in the 1st world for 2-3 times that price. So expect a few truckloads to go "missing".

        It worked for donated clothing, it got dumped in such quantities that an industry picking the valuable items out for resale in second hand shops in the 1st world sprung up.

        Queue Nigerian spam -- my late husband's private container of OLPC computers got stuck in Rotterdam...

  • by grapeape (137008) <mpope7&kc,rr,com> on Friday January 12, 2007 @06:54PM (#17582742) Homepage
    Several of the features of the Laptop initiative arent things that the average power user is going to want or need, but they are features that would be great for niche areas. One that comes to mind is journaling for camping and hiking, emergency services, etc. Im sure there are hundreds of others. I know I would have enjoyed having one when I had phone service but no power during an ice storm a few years back.

    One idea I heard floating around was the to buy one for yourself, you would have to buy one towards the initiative. To me that sounds like a win win, they get more in contributions to the cause, people that want to play with one get the opportunity and production orders increase which usually drives down costs even more.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      One idea I heard floating around was the to buy one for yourself, you would have to buy one towards the initiative.

      This is similar to what the Freeplay Foundatation and C. Crane were doing with the Freeplay Lifeline Radios [ccrane.com]. Buy one for yourself, and one is donated to orphans in Rawanda.

      Apparently this wasn't popular enough, because it looks like Freeplay and C. Crane have discontinued the program. The radios were probably too large and ugly for most American shortwave consumers, I suppose.
      • by grapeape (137008)
        yes but the big difference there is that many people dont know radio exists outside of AM/FM/XM is and and crank weather radios are available much much cheaper. At the $99 price listed it seems more like your buying one for yourself and 4 for children in Rawanda.

        http://www.ambientweather.com/fialcrcrrawi.html [ambientweather.com]

        Compare that one for instance, its smaller, far more portable, nicer looking and has more features...for $19. The laptop program though has a product I cant find...a crankable laptop fast enough for b
        • The laptop program though has a product I cant find...a crankable laptop fast enough for basic email and surfing with mesh capability at a price cheaper than an average pda. (even at the double price mentioned for "buyers".)

          I agree. But I wonder how hard it would be to buy a hand crank and a wireless card with a Marvell 88W8388 (or equivalent) chip, and hook it up to a cheap used laptop you find on ebay.

    • It's a good funding idea in the "afluent" west as well, for all sorts of reasons.

      The idea that everyone is rolling in money in USA and Europe is a myth propagated by Hollywood, the media and politicians, because the reality of the situation is neither popular nor a vote winner. If anyone doubts that, just check the stats on homeless people right across the richest nations. 37 million people in the USA alone were living below the poverty line at the last count ... that represents a lot of people who not on
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Hadlock (143607)
        *raises hand*

        Hi, I live below the poverty line according to my income. I'm typing this from a Powerbook in a (really fucking nice) 1200 sq ft apartment which I commute to work in a VW Jetta. I also pay for my own school (no student loans, paying out of pocket), I have $3000 in savings. I just got a promotion at where I work (movie theater!) but the pay raise hasn't come in yet. I've got Cable broadband, and it's fabulous. No handouts from my parents, doing this on my own. I had about $3000 in credit
  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Friday January 12, 2007 @06:55PM (#17582758) Homepage
    Why would they not want to sell the initial run of these things at a markup to us decadent westerners in order to get the volumes up and bring down the unit cost? Do they not understand the concept of flushing out problems by unloading overpriced units on early adopters? They really need to speak to Apple.
    • Why would they not want to sell the initial run of these things at a markup to us decadent westerners in order to get the volumes up and bring down the unit cost?

      Assuming this part is serious, and only (if anything) the later questions were sarcastic...

      The orders they are taking are something like 1 million+ units per order; it would take a huge (and expensive) marketing blitz to even have a remote chance of getting enough consumer sales to make a substantial difference in the overall volume and unit cost.

      • by Rogerborg (306625)
        That's communist thinking. Selling units is always good, even if they're only breaking even. What, they can't do a half million unit limited run with gold cases and a $250 MRRP? What if they ship 50 million units to impoverished countries and then find that a 2 cent capacitor tends to blow after 3 month's use? A single recall will kill this program dead.
  • Good Decision (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Suriken (922504) on Friday January 12, 2007 @06:57PM (#17582788)
    Definitely a good decision if there is going to be a shortage (at the start) of these products in the developing countries. reportedly enough for some to sell on the "gray-market"
    (Bletsas acknowledges that some abuse is inevitable. "Will some parents sell their children's laptops on the gray market? Sure." ) source [linuxtoday.com]
    Yes this is only initially, but if the children that these laptops are designed for are missing out because some random wants to play with it in his apartment along with his 2 pc's his other laptop, his pda and 3 game consoles something is seriously amiss, regardless of how much he pays for it.
    • by b0s0z0ku (752509)
      Definitely a good decision if there is going to be a shortage (at the start) of these products in the developing countries. reportedly enough for some to sell on the "gray-market"

      Sell as many as you can to whomever can buy. The profits can be used to increase production capacity.

      -b.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Friday January 12, 2007 @06:57PM (#17582798) Homepage
    We all see the OLPC thing as a fun little toy. We all want to play with it. But for us to have a toy to play with may easily backfire into a situation where the next set of 419'ers or click-fraud farms are enabled through the use of OLPC devices.

    If the use an application of these things are considerably more limited and not general purpose, then that could go a long way to prevent their abuse.
    • But for us to have a toy to play with may easily backfire into a situation where the next set of 419'ers or click-fraud farms are enabled through the use of OLPC devices.

      I would venture if someone wanted to use these to make a 419/click-fraud farm, they would find one either on the grey market or just take one. (There should be plenty going to war torn, despot leaded areas of Africa where a militant could just walk out and go YOINK!)

      The tinkerers would be the ones necessary to find how they're doing it and
    • by b0s0z0ku (752509)
      We all want to play with it. But for us to have a toy to play with may easily backfire into a situation where the next set of 419'ers or click-fraud farms are enabled through the use of OLPC devices.

      So I guess that we should make everyone undergo a strict background check and state their reasons for wanting a computer license before they get to buy a computer? If someone's using a computer for fraud, arrest them, but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

      -b.

  • Everybody knows (Score:4, Interesting)

    by KalvinB (205500) on Friday January 12, 2007 @06:59PM (#17582820) Homepage
    there are no poor people in first world countries that could possibly benefit from having a cheap PC. /sarcasm

    If they don't *know* that this laptop would be a huge benefit to poor people in ALL countries, then they're either being threatened by the likes of Dell (hard to sell $500 POS desktops when you can get a durable $100 laptop) or are completely blind to the people who are right under their noses.

    As long as I have a computer with an internet connection I will never be broke. I may be homeless, but I'll never be broke. But, I guess people don't care about the homeless people in say New York that could use a laptop to get started in developing web-sites to bring in some extra money (or even to find resources like food banks and shelters) to help them get back on their feet.
    • by donaldm (919619)
      > there are no poor people in first world countries that could possibly benefit from having a cheap PC. /sarcasm

      Basically you have summed this all up in one line which IMHO is very appropriate. A a cheap laptop for people in third world countries sounds very humanitarian at first until you think about it then you really have to ask the above question.

      I am quite sure these people who are proposing the $100 computer mean well but I feel the $100 could be spent on better basic education such as reading, wri
    • If they don't *know* that this laptop would be a huge benefit to poor people in ALL countries, then they're either being threatened by the likes of Dell (hard to sell $500 POS desktops when you can get a durable $100 laptop) or are completely blind to the people who are right under their noses.

      I think they would sell the laptops to people in first world countries. But you'd have to buy a million of them, and give them all away to children.

  • Too popular? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Minimum_Wage (1003821)
    I think OLPC is a little scared that there might be more interest in this as a consumer device than as a philanthropic project. Given the low cost, capability and hacker-friendly nature of the OLPC (at least on paper) it could be a huge success as a commercial product. Given that, I think they'd be crazy not to offer the buy-two-get-one options just to cut down on the black market that will otherwise develop...
    • For the most part, this project seems pretty admirable - getting cheap technology in the hands of people who for the most part have been left out of the digital "revolution".

      But there's something about it that nags at me, and I can't quite put my finger on it. Something a little condescending, a little too much hubris about it all. The way the planned recipients of these devices are described almost in cargo-cult like terms. Almost as if the Great White Fathers in the West expect to come back a year late
      • But there's something about it that nags at me, and I can't quite put my finger on it. Something a little condescending, a little too much hubris about it all. The way the planned recipients of these devices are described almost in cargo-cult like terms.


        Please provide an example of the OLPC project describing the planned recipients of the devices in anything fairly described as remotely resembly "cargo-cult like terms".

      • by nuzak (959558)
        What bothers me is that the actual education part is very handwavey -- throw a bunch of laptops out there and assume that learning will follow. They do appear to have some kind of plan, but it's not only untested, it's not even a very well developed idea.

        I think we're handing out a bunch of very large lime green mp3 players. Oh well, as charity goes, I can't see this one being too destructive (unlike the food programs that destroy the very farming economy necessary to get out of famine).
        • What bothers me is that the actual education part is very handwavey -- throw a bunch of laptops out there and assume that learning will follow.

          I think, that while the project itself is developing content and has some ideas about how to use them in education, the expectation is that governments spending hundreds of millions of dollars on hardware will also spend a few man-hours on their own considering how they might best apply that hardware in their own educational system.

          There's no magical thinking involv

      • But there's something about it that nags at me, and I can't quite put my finger on it. Something a little condescending, a little too much hubris about it all.

        For me it's the control aspect. "We'll give you this laptop for $150. But you have to buy a million of them. And you have to give them away to children. And those children aren't allowed to resell them."

        And this part probably isn't intentional, but what's going to wind up happening is these poor countries are going to be used as Guinea Pigs. If

      • by Hadlock (143607)
        Erhm, the "Great White Fathers" already conqured Africa, decided it wasn't economical to continue occupying (most of the) continent, and pulled out. We drew lines and created new regional conflicts of epic proportion that has decimated the population.
         
        Think of the OLPC as a consolation gift.
  • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Friday January 12, 2007 @07:18PM (#17583128) Homepage Journal
    because it is one of those bullshit "hypothetical" questions that I really hate.. but hey, this is Slashdot, so what the hell. If I show up 6 months after the first government sale with $100,000,000 will the OLPC sell me some laptops? Or will they say "no, we don't want your money".. hmmm.. let me think about this.. hmm.. I'm pretty sure they'll take my money. They might say "we require you to guarantee us that these laptops will be used solely by children" and when I say no? Will they say "no dice" and walk away or will they say "ok, the price just went up $100 per unit".

    If someone nice and rich out there really wants to buy these laptops for the first world, I think they can do it. Just don't go asking OLPC for 3 units "for my grandkids" for xmas next year.. cause that's not the way electronics manufacturers sell stuff.. they sell in bulk to retailers who add their markup, add postage and handling, etc.
  • by rm999 (775449) on Friday January 12, 2007 @07:22PM (#17583200)
    in a laptop case. Because that is all this is. I just bought an Ipaq with very similar specs for 120 dollars. The only thing the laptop has is a bigger (but lower quality) screen...

    I agree that the OLPC is designed well and sounds really cool, but in practice I think most people in the developed world would be hard-pressed to find actual uses for it. Our youth shouldn't be trained on a specially-designed OS that has little relation to actual OS's when we can afford simple windows, linux, or OSX based desktops. Most adults wouldn't be caught outside using this:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:OLPC-XO_in_Colo r.jpg [wikipedia.org]
    • just bought an Ipaq with very similar specs for 120 dollars. The only thing the laptop has is a bigger (but lower quality) screen...
      Really? Which Ipaq, exactly, did you buy for $120 with a 1200x900 pixel monochrome reflective display that could also function in a lower resolution color mode?
      • by Hadlock (143607)
        The iPaq has a full size keyboard and handwriting recognition?
         
        The outdoor usable display is the big selling point for someone who lives in perpetually sunny Texas. I tried using the B&W feature on my powerbook, but you really need a backlight to see anything. That OLPC display is incredible.
        • by rm999 (775449)
          "The iPaq has ... handwriting recognition?"

          Yes, it does. I'm not going to respond to the part replaced with the ... because you missed the entire point of my post. Reread the subject and the first sentence.
    • by b0s0z0ku (752509) on Friday January 12, 2007 @08:12PM (#17583794)
      I agree that the OLPC is designed well and sounds really cool, but in practice I think most people in the developed world would be hard-pressed to find actual uses for it.

      90% of "computing" work involves writing documents. This would do fine for the purpose. As it would for chatting, e-mail, and a lot of web browsing.

      Most adults wouldn't be caught outside using this:

      I seem to recall Apple selling quite a few clamshell iBooks. If anything, this is a bit more elegant and tasteful. I'd certainly buy one or two.

      -b.

  • If it can't sell commercially its not likely to be a success in its main aid mission either -- if it works that badly then it works that badly everywhere. If it can sell commercially then economy of scale will help lower the cost per unit for that main mission.

    IMHO, a small but successful commercial run should be a minimum prerequisite for the major rollout.
    • If it can't sell commercially its not likely to be a success in its main aid mission either

      It doesn't have an aid mission. Its not soem gift being airdropped by the West onto developing nations, its something national governments are buying.

      If it can sell commercially then economy of scale will help lower the cost per unit for that main mission.

      Its main mission provides more of an economy of scale (and without the hassle of dealing with retail networks or direct support of individual users) than marketing

  • Chanel Conflict... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WoTG (610710) on Friday January 12, 2007 @07:38PM (#17583442) Homepage Journal
    I wonder if the hesitancy on the part of them to release this for consumer purchase is due to pressure from AMD and the other component manufacturers. (AMD manufactures the CPU in the OLPC) They don't want to sell millions of low-end CPUs, screens, etc. in the Developed World... they are much better off with the current entry level of $500 or so for a laptop.

    Personally, I would consider converting my home server to one of these OLPCs. A couple hundred MHz, a couple USB ports for storage, and low power usage sound about right.
    • by DragonWriter (970822) on Friday January 12, 2007 @07:58PM (#17583676)
      Probably not. The hesitancy is because OLPC sees social disapproval as a key component of discourage theft and resale, and therefore doesn't want to sell the same computers to the public; they've stated more than once that once they get rolling with the main units, they may look at a distinctive commercial derivative for individual sale.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mrchaotica (681592) *
        once they get rolling with the main units, they may look at a distinctive commercial derivative for individual sale.

        What do you mean, "derivative?" All they need to do to is use a different color plastic for the case on the commercial version. That'll make it plenty "distinctive," and it's easy enough that they can sell them immediately!

        • What do you mean, "derivative?" All they need to do to is use a different color plastic for the case on the commercial version.

          Well, here's what the OLPC Wiki [laptop.org] says:

          Retail Sales on the Open Market
          This part of the model is currently not clearly defined. Firstly, it is not something that OLPC itself will do either now or in the future. However, there will be retail sales of 2B1 or similar models. This will happen sometime after the initial country rollouts when the manufacturers are comfortable enough with pr

  • And, what's to stop someone from copying this effort and go retail?
  • Smart. A product which would totally fail in the marketplace under normal circumstance will probably become a "must have" item simply because you can't buy it here. I'll be buying mine off eBay.
  • by kosmosik (654958) <konrad.kosmosik@net> on Friday January 12, 2007 @08:02PM (#17583716) Homepage
    Yesterday I've read a BBC (or smth. like that) article that stated it would be possible to buy two and get one (the other one donated to some other country) - I would certainly do that. Come on - a quite usefull and supported by Linux, well designed machine. Hell I would shell out $200 for this one with no problem. Even bare without operating system (I would hack my own). This is as for me.

    But here goes another story - what if I would decide to develop (here in Central Europe - why not?) software/services for this machines? I would like to get one for developement and stuff (those OS images for emulation are not suitable for Real World testing The Platform)?

    For me not releasing it (even if it costs like 3x more) to general public is like creating a barrier - so kids in other countries will get this stuff. And me? Me not. I guess this laptop was intended to break the barriers - this situation - when it is not aviable for whole world creates a barrier.

    Like come on - I would love to hack it and share what I did with other people.
    • by Teancum (67324)
      There was an on-line petition to try and demonstrate a demand for these things to propose something even more generous:

      Buy three laptops and give two away... aka pay $300-$400 and make a donation to the OLPC effort at the same time.

      It is precisely this sort of suggested fundraising that the OLPC supporters are rejecting flatly, and there is not a single shred of evidence that any other similar sort of financial arrangement is being made. If the BBC claims that such an effort is being done, it is a very slo
  • tiny (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12, 2007 @08:03PM (#17583724)
    guys, just created this account to tell you the thing is *tiny*. been playing with gen 1 for 3 weeks. you know the Simpsons episode where Homer gets so fat he can't press a single button on the telephone? That's not me. :) Yet if I type on the keyboard with my fingers so close they rub, my fingers are still too wide to fit on the keyboard. It truly is a keyboard for children. Maybe someone can post some photos next to a ruler. I've heard more than once "it's smaller than I thought". don't consider this a regular laptop. it's fun, trust me, but physically a very small unit.
  • Don't we want one giant media commons, where everyone has basically the same access? Isn't similar equipment the best guarantee of that?

    If all of the poor people in the world run one platform, and only poor people run it, aren't they more likely to use different file formats? And if that happens, won't it be harder for us to talk to each other?

    I know we don't do much talking now, but I think that's a big problem, and one we should be trying to chip away at, and not reinforce.

  • This will only counter the goal of the whole project. Some people will want to pay money just to have a few of these in their toy collection. As a result, some criminals will rob laptops from the children and sell them on ebay. Selling them cheap would instead make the value of a used laptop even less and also help lower cost.

  • The OLPC issue is making it crystal clear that there is no such thing as free market self-regulation. It is obvious that the market demands machines like these. The fact that none is available shows that producers control the market, not consumers, and whoever thinks otherwise lives in delusion.
  • by TopSpin (753) *
    Michalis Bletsas, chief connectivity officer for the project, told the BBC that the industry should be thinking less about pushing technology designed for the Western world on the rest of the planet, and more about developing technologies specifically for the developing world. "The way to do it is not to try and deploy tried and trusted technology but to try and develop technology specifically targeted to the developing world,"

    This is misguided. If the "Western" world has no contact with the platform becau
    • by Teancum (67324)
      Simply put and very direct.

      I have been highly critical of the OLPC project since the beginning for precisely the very reasons you have given, and more, as it shows a sort of arrogance and complete lack of understanding of economics on the part of the major contributors to this project.

      And while Ebay may be able to stop the sale of these particular computers explicitly in some sort of weird new policy specific to the OLPC project, they have no legal obligation to do so, nor is it going to stop a grey market
  • I think it would be nice for MY kids to carry a portable notepad, encyclopedia, communicator with them to school that is near impossible to break even when on school trips. Current laptops don't qualify ; so far a pen & pencil is superior in every way.

    If introduced in the now neglected "first" world, this could spur development of a huge quantity of educational materials. (Eg. Wikipedia, but with animated examples and at different levels of difficulty (eg. for pre-schoolers to PHD's) which in turn would

"If I do not want others to quote me, I do not speak." -- Phil Wayne

Working...