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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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  • by tsa (15680) on Saturday September 15, 2007 @01:13AM (#20613237) Homepage
    In 6 months it will still be a very useful machine and be a lot cheaper.
    • by Anomolous Cowturd (190524) on Saturday September 15, 2007 @02:10AM (#20613625)
      They could start calling it the 100 pound laptop.
    • In 6 months it will still be a very useful machine and be a lot cheaper.

      They are already buying the least expensive parts available. Parts will not get any cheaper, but they will get better parts over time. Prices for a given part follow a U shaped curve, it starts high, comes down and hits a bottom, and then starts going up again (unless it just exits the market completely). What this project will most likely do is hop from part to part to stay at the bottom of the various curves.
  • by r00t (33219) on Saturday September 15, 2007 @01:15AM (#20613265) Journal
    Come on now. "currency fluctuation" refers to the US dollar sinking.

    That's not going to matter in Argintina, Brazil, Nigeria (well maybe there...), and so on.

    • by Rolgar (556636)
      Money involved in this project will be affected, although it should be in dollars briefly enough before being used to buy more parts and pay for assembly, that it probably won't have much effect. But I suspect they'll use euros, pounds, or some other currency that is more stable to transfer money from foreign governments to suppliers.
  • Just find a factory where they can make the cases out of recycled lead-laced Barbie doll heads.

    Ahem. Seriously. Sure, this might cause some deals to fall through, but it's still a cheap price for a functional self-contained computer.

    Also, with time you'll get learning economies and economies of scale coming into effect.
  • Price difference (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rinisari (521266) on Saturday September 15, 2007 @01:16AM (#20613271) Homepage Journal
    Yes, $188 is almost twice the $100 original cost. $100 was the goal, right? Even though OLPC didn't make its goal, $188 is still a ridiculously cheap laptop--no other manufacturer can match that (if they could, they'd be making it)--that will be benefiting people throughout the globe.
    • by suv4x4 (956391) on Saturday September 15, 2007 @01:22AM (#20613323)
      Yes, $188 is almost twice the $100 original cost. $100 was the goal, right? Even though OLPC didn't make its goal, $188 is still a ridiculously cheap laptop--no other manufacturer can match that (if they could, they'd be making it)

      Hehe, do you realize how deliciously ironic your post is [hothardware.com].

      And that machine I link to is actually better than the OLPC. And will sell for the same price to everyone (you'll need to pay 2x or 3x the OLPC price to get it yourself). And can run Windows (XP and less) if need be.

      In fact, what OLPC proved is, that commercial entities are already doing their best. 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.
      • Capitalism wins again?
      • To be fair (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Rob Simpson (533360)
        I'm pretty sure that "pay twice the price thing" has no official basis and was just a petition someone started.

        Also, while I'm certainly going to snap up an ASUS Eee - it looks like an awesome little subnotebook, especially since laptops that size are usually only available as fancy $2000 machines - I'd also buy an OLPC if I got the chance. Being cheap is about the only thing they have in common.

        The ASUS Eee is light and has a tiny screen (even for a subnotebook) and a 3 hour battery life, while the O
        • by suv4x4 (956391)
          I'm pretty sure that "pay twice the price thing" has no official basis and was just a petition someone started.

          No, the commercial version will have different color and will cost twice the OLPC. At the time it was supposed to cost $100, Negroponte talked about commercializing at $200.

          As recent as two months ago [genevalunch.com] he announced the commercial ones will be $350, given the OLPC's price rised up to $170.

          Now since it's $188, I espect the commercial version to be closer to $400.

          Being cheap is about the only thing th
          • At which end of the laptop price range is $400? Right. Also consider that it (supposedly) comes with spare parts to repair it and is ruggedized [wikipedia.org]...
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by suv4x4 (956391)
          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)
          • Try dropping an ASUS Eee and the OLPC (unless those responsible for the latter are lying, which is certainly a possibility) and see what happens.

            Also, I guess I just assumed it was bigger because all I could remember was the resolution...

            OLPC:
            7.5" diagonal LCD (6.0" x 4.5")
            Dual mode operation: Reflective Monochrome or Transflective Colour
            TFT LCD driving
            1200x900, 200dpi resolution
            less than 1W in colour mode, 0.2W in B&W mode
            LED backlight

            Eee:
            7 in TFT LCD @ 800×480 (though apparently a - mo
          • Whether the OLPC project turns out to be everything they'd hoped it would be the goals of these two machines are clearly different. One is rugged, with a hand (crank) charger. It's a bit of a geek novelty, but targeted at developing nations. Places without BestBuy's and Starbucks. The other is a inexpensive micro portable (or whatever their calling small laptops this week) which will be targeted, well, probably just about everywhere else. Maybe the OLPC should have focused on a more straight forward, low-co
          • 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.

          • According to Wikipedia:

            The price and specifications for the Eee PC have changed from those first announced by ASUS. The price rose from US$199 to US$249, while the base (USA model) went from 4 to 2 gigabyte solid state drive, the VGA camera was dropped and the RAM dropped from 512MB to 256MB.

            I still consider both the OLPC and Eee PC to be extremely interesting. However, the rugged nature, lower power consumption, genuinely inovative interface, mesh networking and superior security model makes the OLPC a tr

          • Are you sure the hand charger is standard with the OLPC? CNN mentioned something about a pull string, but the OLPC website [laptop.org] says this cryptic thing:

            True, early prototypes included a hand crank, but it was removed in subsequent versions. The actual shipping units will use an off-board human-power system, connected to the power brick. Candidates include a foot-pedal charger similar to the Freecharge portable charger, solar panels, a crank, and a pulley system.

            This leaves the impression that they haven't even worked out what this manual charging method will be, and might be leaving it for future editions of the OLPC. If this is wrong, can someone post a link that shows the manual charging system?

      • by ZombieRoboNinja (905329) on Saturday September 15, 2007 @02:48AM (#20613831)
        I dunno, I'd say that Eee (ee?) is after a different demographic.

        Does the Asus have its own manual power source, like the OLPC's crank or pedal? Nope? There goes everyone in the world without reliable electricity.

        Does it have super-idiot-proof software? Not really. Heck, even I (as a fairly experienced computer-user) don't instantly understand half of OpenOffice's features. How is that gonna work for people who've (a) never used a computer before and (b) have no access to tech support?

        Is it durable? Like, durable enough to make up for the fact that some potential users would have no access to any sort of computer repairs?

        And so on. I'd personally prefer the Asus one, living here in the US with regular electricity, WiFi, and so on, but a whole lot of the OLPC's target audience would be using the Asuses (Asi?) as paperweights pretty quick.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 15, 2007 @03:31AM (#20614029)
        > "...deliciously ironic..."

        (1) The ASUS Eee PC is priced at $249. That is 30%+ more expensive than the OLPC XO-1.

        (2) The ASUS Eee PC *only* *exists* because Intel hates the AMD-based OLPC project. Intel created and funded a competitive reference platform, the Classmate PC, and this forms the basis for the Eee PC.

        Of course, the OLPC is a non-profit social welfare program that actually achieves its goals when it forces Intel to dramatically drop prices and cut zero-profit deals with the likes of, say, Pakistan.

        This is not irony. This is *accomplishment*.

        And yes, I'll be buying an Eee, and thanking *Negroponte* -- not Intel -- for making it happen. :D
      • by 1u3hr (530656)
        that machine I link to [Eee PC] is actually better than the OLPC

        "Better" in raw performance spec. But I very much doubt it will be as durable, easy to repair, have as long battery life as the OLPC. Give one of each to two village kids and in 6 months see which is working, which is a doorstop.

        A few minutes finds reviews like:

        http://www.notebookreview.com/default.asp?newsID=3829 [notebookreview.com]
        The build is as you would expect for a budget $250 PC, a little shaky. It felt and looked like plastic and if this thing wer

      • by localman (111171)
        I'd hesitate to write off the OLPC just yet. It is not a general purpose machine and wasn't intended to be. Third world children need a different laptop than the rest of us do. If the technology works out to be a better fit, that's still a big win. Also, $11 isn't much difference in price, but $11 times 1 million units sure as hell is. As much as your cynicism wants to kick in and declare all good efforts to be worthless, I'd hold on for a few more years to see what actually shakes out of this endeavo
      • In fact, what OLPC proved is, that commercial entities are already doing their best. 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.

        And did you see any companies working on ultra-cheap laptops before OLPC demonstrated there was a demand? I'd betcha a shiny nickel that you would have been laughed out of the boardroom if you suggested that sort of thing before OLPC was announced. With the massive public interest in what OLPC is offering, even an idiot CEO would sit up and take note. "Hmm, costs 1/8th of our low-end laptop, market studies say we could increase sales volume by 16x, we might just have ourselves an idea here."

      • >> In fact, what OLPC proved is, that commercial entities are already doing their best.

        That's a load of crap. The Eeee!!!!!! didn't exist (hell, wasn't even on the drawing board) when the OLPC announced its intentions. Nor was Intel's Classmate PC. Commercial vendors have had the ability to make such ultracheap PCs for a long time now, but they didn't break down and do it until the OLPC made such machines inevitable. Before that, laptop manufacturers knew that each ultracheap machine they made wou
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by grcumb (781340)

        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.

        Vapourware? That's weird. You see, I have an XO laptop sitting right here on my desk. It's remarkably massy, compared to most vapour.

        I've been testing the laptop for almost a month now. In fact, when my other 'real' laptop's wireless went south, I switched t

    • Yes, $188 is almost twice the $100 original cost.
      To be fair, it's 60% more than the original estimate plus the dollar dropping like stone ("fluctuations" my ass)...
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by suv4x4 (956391)
        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 modecx (130548) on Saturday September 15, 2007 @03:42AM (#20614085)
          ASUS=Taiwan. Where do you think the OLPC will be made? Taiwan--just like everything else! The manufacturer makes just about every other damned laptop, too. So, how, precisely, do you believe inflation of the U.S. dollar (currently 2.5%) is strongly related to third party prices from a foreign manufacturer, who is in an country with an inflation rate one fifth of that of the US? Put the facts where your mouth is.

          Secondly, contrary to what you're blathering on about earlier, the ASUS EEE and the OLPC are hardly comparable. They don't target the same users or market. The OLPC is designed to be eminently durable (it's well sealed against dust and water), to last a long time on battery (it gets 2000mAh more than the OLPC to get 3 hours run time vs 5+ the OLPC offers), it has a monitor that's better suited to reading textbook style information on the computer, and is designed to have incredible wireless range, so it can serve as a mesh network node. And the ASUS recently became more expensive-$199 to $250.

          You need to learn that "better" is a subjective metric when you're comparing stuff like this. Is a Cray faster at computing stuff than the computer on your desk? Absolutely--but that doesn't mean that a Cray makes a good desktop machine, any more than a desktop makes a good super computer. Each is completely unfit for the other's job. Apple and oranges.
        • by Hercynium (237328)
          I'm not saying the fluctuation theory is correct ('cause I know next to nothing about economics) but Asus is a Taiwanese company, so they probably aren't buying their parts with dollars.
  • ASUS Eee (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    At that price, one might as well get an Asus EEE instead. Unless Asus is also raising prices...
    • by tsa (15680)
      Wow that is a serious machine! Neat!
    • by evilviper (135110)

      At that price, one might as well get an Asus EEE instead.

      People WITH ELECTRICITY might be better off with an EEE (better know as Intel's answer to OLPC).

      For those without, as keeping it powered-up will easily cost more than the laptop in no time.

      And that's not even mentioning the infinitely more flexible and durable hardware of the OLPC that will stand up to abuse from children, or the incredible (open source) educational software and interface it comes with, and the hardware that ties in with it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by enrevanche (953125)
      The OLPC is not aimed at one who might as well get an Asus EEE instead.

      Plus

      • The Asus dropped in spec (half of the memory, half of the flash) and raised the base price by $50
      • Is not durable, the case is crap and not designed for any kind of rugged environment, especially for kids
      • The Asus uses Starbuck's type WIFI which does not do p2p. This makes only suitable for places with an established WIFI infrastructure and this spotty at best in the most developed countries.
      • The software on the OLPC is designed fo
  • Only USD (Score:5, Funny)

    by MarkRose (820682) on Saturday September 15, 2007 @01:21AM (#20613315) Homepage
    It's okay, it's 188 USD, not 188 in some highly valued currency.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by markov_chain (202465)
      It's $100 in 2002 dollars :)
      • That's nonsense. You're mixing up currency fluctuations with inflation. Go use the handy inflation calculator [bls.gov] courtesy of Uncle Sam to find out that $100 in 2002 has the same buying power as $115 today. Now, you can argue about how governments calculate inflation or even what inflation is, but it's definitely not that high.

        Fact is the OLPC missed its $100 target a long time ago. There were a couple of "sacred cows" that were enormously expensive resource wise and which they raised the specs to accomodate

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 15, 2007 @01:34AM (#20613395)
    0.532 Laptops Per Child
  • by MrCopilot (871878) on Saturday September 15, 2007 @01:42AM (#20613435) Homepage Journal
    How about the 100 pound laptop.

    According to Google Calculator
    188 U.S. dollars = 92.7204577 British pounds

  • by martin-boundary (547041) on Saturday September 15, 2007 @01:58AM (#20613531)
    We've discussed the price increase on slashdot before. The problem is the hardware, but not because all hardware is inherently expensive.

    It's OLPC's recent goal of being operating system agnostic, rather than linux specific. We know that specially tailored linux distributions can run on very old (and very cheap) hardware, but Windows and OSX can't. If the goal is to be able to run any operating system, then the specs have to be pretty recent, and that means more expensive hardware.

    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.

    $90 is 90 days pay for poor people who live on $1 a day [wikipedia.org]. In those countries, the governments will never buy massive numbers of OLPCs, and at $190 a pop they'll even buy a whole lot less of them.

    • 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.
      • The OLPC has 256 MB of ram, and 1GB of flash memory.

        That's exactly my point. Who dreams up these sorts of specs? How about 256 flash and 32MB ram? That's plenty enough if you want a usable computer, just not a usable Microsoft or Apple system. There are plenty of microlinuxes that can be installed on those sorts of specs. They could easily cut out $50 that way. Instead, they blame the market for high prices on higher than necessary specs. Duh.

        hardware specs would make the laptop any cheaper. It just

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mosb1000 (710161)
          "How about 256 flash and 32MB ram"

          How much do you think the 1GB flash and 256MB or ram are adding to the cost of this machine? I could buy them (not in bulk) for about $30. Do you honesty think it would be appreciably cheaper to use 256 and 32? It would cost a few dollars less at most (the cost of ram is not proportional to the amount purchased, as ram must be built in modules), and dramatically limit the functionality of the machine.

          "One of the nice things with older hardware is that the factories alrea
          • by amorsen (7485)
            No, in the case of 32MB ram chips, the factories are not set up to produce it at all, because no one uses it.

            Apart from, say, all the Linksys equipment. And modern cell phones...
  • The OLPC project has just been renamed to HLPC. "Half laptop per child".
  • So if your currency devalues. Have the costs really risen? Surely the costs are constant and the amount of value you have has fallen.
     
  • by proverbialcow (177020) on Saturday September 15, 2007 @04:03AM (#20614179) Journal
    If they're going to keep straying from their original vision, they should at least have the decency to call it "No Laptop Left Behind."
  • Apple (Score:5, Funny)

    by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Saturday September 15, 2007 @04:21AM (#20614257)
    Apple should release a $200 iPod touch with increased functionality and reduced specs for children in third world countries. It could easily compete with OLPC at that price.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gl4ss (559668)
      in many developing parts of the world the most connected, powerful computing device a person personally owns is their mobile phone.

      even if it's just a crappy j2me,gprs, browser capable.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Danathar (267989)
      There are various reasons why it would not work.

      I might add as well that the Ipod Touch is a music/video portable player, and NOT a PDA (No matter how many people wish it WAS a PDA)
    • iTouch is a nice platform with good future potential, but it's not designed to be used without a host computer to for syncing and backup. Most of the software would need to be modified.
  • by erikjan (1157147) on Saturday September 15, 2007 @05:59AM (#20614603)
    The price of the OLPC laptop is becoming a recurring subject. I think the price of the laptops is important, but not the most important story to tell. The OLPC laptop has already revolutionized the design of the laptop. On the hardware side we have the extreme power efficiency, the high resolution screen, the cranking mechanism, and last but not least the ergonomic, rugged design. On the software side there is the open firmware, the mesh network, the new user interface, Bitfrost, and probably a few other things I forgot. And all of this is made possible by open source software. The OLPC laptop has set a new standard, and none of the so called competitors from Intel, or other manufacturers comes even close. The competing machines are just cheap standard laptops, with none of the qualities that make the OLPC laptop special. Whatever the price of the laptop, and even if the whole project ultimately fails, the design of the OLPC laptop will have an enormous impact on the future of the PC. And because it is all open souce we can build on its foundations. All of that is much more important than todays price of the hardware.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gregorio (520049)

      The OLPC laptop has already revolutionized the design of the laptop. On the hardware side we have the extreme power efficiency, the high resolution screen, the cranking mechanism, and last but not least the ergonomic, rugged design.
      Oh, geez, cut it. It's just an average motherbord with standard components. People build more advanced machines in the embedded market, every single day.

      There is no revolution. It's just another piece of hardware.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Chandon Seldon (43083)

        People build more advanced machines in the embedded market, every single day.

        Oh really?

        What other device is a wireless node and acts like a wireless mesh router even when powered off?

        What other device has a 1200x900 screen that takes well under a watt?

        Sure, it's not a huge leap ahead of other, similar devices - but the XO is definitely pushing the boundries of mobile computer design.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by grcumb (781340)

        There is no revolution. It's just another piece of hardware.

        So why, then, does everyone who sees the prototype I've been demo-ing walk away with stars in their eyes?

        I've been working in ICT for over 15 years, and I've spent years in some of the most remote areas in the world, trying to extend the reach of the Internet in a way that's useful to the people who live there. Let me tell you that in all that time, I have never encountered anything quite so well-designed for its task as the XO laptop.

        I've be

  • Or give it a year or so when fully functional computers can be had in an iphone factor and cost less than $70. I mean, it's at least possible.
  • Ok, so if you ask Palm to sell without intermediates on one millon bulk, directly to goverments, Im prety sure they can get it down to sub U$S:50 for the Palm Zire 22. It already have some networking capabilities with IR, but with the remaining U$S:50 you can also add some 802.11b networking.

    Im not afiliate to Palm by any means, it is just that I hate when people reinvent the wheel... I just see this all OLPC circus so unfair to currently existing technologies...

    I really would prefer Negropontes tea
  • To promote something at a given price range and then have development over runs and resulting higher costs?

    Its like a bait and switch program or methodology.
    What I don't get is why play this game at all?

    Who is really fooling who here?

    Haven't the computer industry experts figured out realistic cost estimating yet? Other industries have!!

    In a short period of time the price of computer hardware goes down.
    Will the concept of a laptop ever reach the $100 dollar price? Absolutely!!!

    What does the cost overruns, ov
    • by jbengt (874751)
      "Haven't the computer industry experts figured out realistic cost estimating yet? Other industries have!!"

      If an company has been manufacturing pretty much the same thing for years in a mature industry, maybe they've figured out realistic cost estimating.
      However, I work in the construction industry, and I can guarantee you that they haven't figured out realistic cost estimating yet.
  • Of course this is bad news. And I don't know how most countries are going to react to this. But I still plan to buy the OLPC for myself. It's a completely open platform, a portable and rugged design and I will support a good cause when I buy it.
  • by boomka (599257) on Saturday September 15, 2007 @09:24AM (#20615477) Homepage Journal
    Let's be economically realistic here. If you look at the OLPC progress timescale here:
    http://laptop.org/en/vision/progress/index.shtml [laptop.org]
    You will notice that the price tag of 100$ per laptop initiates back in the end of 2004.

    Now, I hope all of you here have heard about an economic phenomenon called inflation - the process where governments inflate money supply making your dollars buy less. Very few know that for the past decade or so the government has been massaging the official inflation numbers to make them appear lower - this allows them to make fewer and fewer payments on inflation adjusted liabilities such as social security. However, they still publish all the numbers one needs to calculate the actual inflation, and some people have been doing that, look for example here:
    http://www.shadowstats.com/cgi-bin/sgs/data [shadowstats.com]
    Notice how inflation has been running steadily at about 10% for the last few years. Today, the engineers who drafted the 100$ plan in the end of 2004 / beginning of 2005, should expect the cost to be 100*1.1*1.1*1.1 or roughly 135 dollars.
    That already would take a lot of sensationalism out of the story. However, let's not stop here. Remember, the real culprit behind inflation is the money supply, and consumer inflation is usually the latest to price rising party. The money supply (as you may have noticed from previous link) has been running at 14% annually, causing serious mischief in prices of things like energy (http://www.investmenttools.com/futures/energy/index.htm) or metals (http://www.investmenttools.com/futures/metals/welcome_to_the_page_about_copper_futures.htm) - both are important for making technology.
    Just for the sake of an example, let's trivialize the problem a little, and say that to make a laptop you need to spend 60% of your budget on metals, and 40% on energy (it's wrong, but I am just making an example). What would you expect to happen to the price of such laptop according the charts I linked to? Well, it would go up from 100$ to slightly over 200$.

    So what is the real story here, engineers screwing up their designs, or governments inflating away the buying power of the dollar making the same thing cost twice more over 3 years?
    Look at my links, do your research, decide for yourself.
  • The price differential is being blamed on raw materials costs and currency fluctuation.

    If it is mostly raw materials, I suppose there is only so much a person can do. If it is currency fluctuation, maybe they should price it, and should have priced it to begin with, in euros. Everyone knows the dollar has been sinking for years.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Zephyr14z (907494)
      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.
  • Perspective (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Kelsin5 (741493)
    This has been known for a while. Their plan is to release it now cause they finally decided to go with features rather than cost. It still has a hard drive cranks for when power is unavailable. It has a bunch of design goals that are NOT the same as other cheap laptops. It's meant to be rugged, water resistant, wireless that can span miles to provide (very slow) internet in places that wouldn't otherwise support it.

    They already have a bunch of orders for other countries that are buying millions. Their plan

What this country needs is a good five dollar plasma weapon.

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