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OLPC Cost Rises To $188 Per Laptop 270

Posted by Zonk
from the still-not-a-ton-of-money dept.
Arathon writes "The amazing '$100 laptop' designed by the 'One Laptop Per Child' program isn't going to make it out the door for that price. CNN reports that the laptops are now expected to cost $188 apiece when they come out later this fall. This is expected to make the program's appeal potentially much smaller, since the developers were relying on the mind-bogglingly low-price to hook governments into the concept of buying laptops for their people. OLPC's spokesman guarantees that the price won't rise further, to 'above $190'. The price differential is being blamed on raw materials costs and currency fluctuation. Is this the end of the OLPC's newsworthiness, or should we continue to hope that it will make the difference that so many have said it will?"
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OLPC Cost Rises To $188 Per Laptop

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  • ASUS Eee (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 15, 2007 @01:19AM (#20613295)
    At that price, one might as well get an Asus EEE instead. Unless Asus is also raising prices...
  • Re:Price difference (Score:3, Informative)

    by suv4x4 (956391) on Saturday September 15, 2007 @01:56AM (#20613507)
    To be fair, it's 60% more than the original estimate plus the dollar dropping like stone ("fluctuations" my ass)...

    Right, but the dollar is dropping like stone for Asus as well, surely. How do you explain their price.
  • by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Saturday September 15, 2007 @02:29AM (#20613727)
    "We know that specially tailored linux distributions can run on very old (and very cheap) hardware, but Windows and OSX can't."

    The OLPC has 256 MB of ram, and 1GB of flash memory. It can't run either of those operating systems. If they were trying to make it run these operating systems, they did a really poor job.

    "The issue is that OLPC are pressured into running Windows by American and other rich Western schools that like the idea of buying a cheap PC and don't care that much if the price is $100 or $190 as a result."

    That is speculation and it probably isn't true. I'd doubt reducing the hardware specs would make the laptop any cheaper. It just costs a certain amount to money to put a laptop together, and there's no amount of spec and feature reduction that can change that. The truth is that OLPC was largely unaware of the difficulties this kind of project would face. OLPC set an unreasonable goal for the price, and now they're coming to terms with the reality of the situation. Initially OLPC had said that the market wouldn't produce an inexpensive laptop because the profits weren't there. It turns out that the market wasn't making them because it's not possible.
  • Re:To be fair (Score:3, Informative)

    by suv4x4 (956391) on Saturday September 15, 2007 @02:40AM (#20613793)
    The ASUS Eee is light and has a tiny screen (even for a subnotebook) and a 3 hour battery life, while the OLPC is a rugged machine with sunlight-readable display and a hand charger.

    My, my what a spec spin. Let me make one myself, using the official specs of the OLPC and Eee:

    OLPC RAM: 256 MB;
    Eee RAM: 512 MB;

    OLPC storage: 1GB;
    Eee storage: 4GB;

    OLPC Screen: 7.5 inch;
    Eee Screen: 7 inch;

    (wait a sec, so Eee has tiny 7 inch screen and OLPC has huge 7.5 inch screen, I see, I see)

  • by Znork (31774) on Saturday September 15, 2007 @04:19AM (#20614249)
    "And the exchange rate is driven by...?"

    A whole lot of factors, most of them boiling down to demand.

    Central bank interest rates have some effect; they're one factor that can be used to encourage a demand for a currency.

    As such, inflation is tied to, but neither exactly the cause or the effect of currency fluctuations. A drop in a currency will result in (possibly) measured inflation as the price on imports goes up, and get countered by a central bank (unless countered by deflation elsewhere), thus (possibly) stabilizing currency again.

    Of course, if you run the printers and simply print huge amounts of currency faster than the economy grows you'll get both inflation and a drop in the exchange rate, but again, the exchange rate drop isnt driven by the inflation, but both are driven by an oversupply of currency.

    Then you have various other factors such as trade imbalances, investment imbalances and currency speculation which can drive an exchange rate both up and down (indirectly through demand for the currency).
  • Re:To be fair (Score:5, Informative)

    by ricegf (1059658) on Saturday September 15, 2007 @07:06AM (#20614845) Journal

    Sure, a Western adult would prefer an Eee - I can't wait to test drive one myself. But you omit a few other differences that demonstrate why OLPC is better for their target market - children in developing nations.

    Eee networking - conventional wifi-to-Internet
    OLPC networking - mesh ad hoc OR wifi-to-Internet

    Eee screen - conventional indoor only
    OLPC screen - unique dual-mode, clearly readable even in bright sunlight

    Eee hardware - conventional non-rugged Western office / home environment; requires stable AC power
    OLPC hardware - sealed against elements, child-tolerant; runs on AC power, hand or foot power, solar cell

    Eee software - conventional Linux
    OLPC software - highly customized for non-computer-literate children

    Eee development - requires conventional developer tools; system restore requires external media
    OLPC development - "show source" button allows children to explore and modify most aspects of the environment with nothing more than the built-in Python editor; and versioned filesystem ensures machine can be rolled all the way back to original state with no external media support

    The OLPC is very unconventional, and is much better suited to children in developing classrooms than any other machine on the market. *That* is what makes it special, not an arbitrarily low price point.

  • Re:Price difference (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 15, 2007 @07:42AM (#20614981)
    Do you realize how rediculously uninformed your post is? The eee is not going to make the $199 mark (at least as originally speced): http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=42217 [theinquirer.net]

    Both spec and price seem to be changing. The base flash drive size has dropped from 4GB to 2, base memory from 512MB to 256, the onboard VGA camera has disappeared from the base model, and yet the anticipated price has risen by $250.
  • by Xolotl (675282) on Saturday September 15, 2007 @10:16AM (#20615767) Journal
    Check again, 13 states now, for a total of 316 million people, also places like Monaco, the Vatican, Andorra etc which are not EU but use the Euro. Cyprus and Malta will join in January 2008. Also, a number of countries are in the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, which means that while they don't actually use the Euro, their exchange rates are linked to it within certain boundaries.

    Interestingly, several countries have started to use Euro for foreign trade because of the isntability of the dollar, oddly enough including North Korea.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurozone [wikipedia.org]

  • Re:Price difference (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 15, 2007 @11:56AM (#20616523)

    Negroponte ranted left and right how the greedy vendors could make a cheap PC but couldn't, but now his dream is vaporware and he's arrived at a pretty pedestrian sublaptop, that has its analog for the same price with the good ol' commercial vendors.

    I beg your pardon but you are only addressing one small part of the vision behind OLPC.

    What has been accomplished is magnificent:

    • a laptop with its own recharger
    • a laptop that can be serviced in the field by lay persons with limited tech resources
    • a laptop that can participate out of the box with a wifi peerage network

    There is a lot more of the same. The initial price was but one target, and while that arrow is not going to hit the bullseye, it will strike one of the higher scoring rings. Meanwhile, the OLPC deserves kudos for racking up good scores on a lot of other measures of success.

  • by Zephyr14z (907494) on Saturday September 15, 2007 @02:56PM (#20617879)
    Note the word "and" used in "on raw materials cost and currency fluctuation." Typically, this means that it is a combination of the two.

    For example, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich contains both peanut butter, as well as jelly.

If A = B and B = C, then A = C, except where void or prohibited by law. -- Roy Santoro

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