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OLPC Cost Rises To $188 Per Laptop 270

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 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.

  • 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 [].

    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.
  • by tftp ( 111690 ) on Saturday September 15, 2007 @01:58AM (#20613525) Homepage
    It will matter if the laptops are produced in the US

    Even expensive laptops are not produced in the US, and the reason is costs. In the USA it would cost you $100 per laptop to just power it up, check that it works, and put it into a box. I seriously doubt that you could squeeze into this price the large amount of manual labor that assembly of notebooks typically requires. Anyone who opened a notebook knows how complicated these things are, because they are so densely packed, and you can't really automate most of the assembly steps because they require human hands and vision and touch (like the tiny Molex connectors which must be installed with tweezers.) It's best, cost-wise, if these laptops never even come close to the USA.

  • 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 []. 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.

  • To be fair (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rob Simpson ( 533360 ) on Saturday September 15, 2007 @02:01AM (#20613559)
    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 OLPC is a rugged machine with sunlight-readable display and a hand charger.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 15, 2007 @02:13AM (#20613647)
    currency fluctuation means everything bought in foreign countries with american dollars is currently much more expensive. Perhaps noticed: []
    (this is again the price of the euro, but the situation is similar for several other currencies, I do not know where OLPC buys most of their components, but I guess they have to pay more in dollars now).
  • by Per Abrahamsen ( 1397 ) on Saturday September 15, 2007 @02:13AM (#20613651) Homepage
    > Currency "fluctuation", a.k.a. inflation

    Currency fluctuation doesn't refer to inflation, but to the low exchange rate for dollar

    > may raise this by $5 tops

    The dollar has dropped 10% in value compared to second largest currency (the EURO) since the announcement of the OLPC.
  • by This_Is_My_Happening ( 1151393 ) on Saturday September 15, 2007 @02:20AM (#20613685)

    I like how you say run Windows XP like that is a selling point
    Can run Windows is a selling point. Can only run Windows would not be. Luckily this thing ships with Linux.
  • 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 mardin ( 976086 ) <mark.mardin@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Saturday September 15, 2007 @03:16AM (#20613975)
    The EURO market is the biggest single-currency market in the world. There are still more dollars in the world due to historical reasons, but that won't be long.
  • 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 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 Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 15, 2007 @04:10AM (#20614205)

    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 wouldn't call something that actually exists--including technological innovations such as the special screen, mesh networking, super low-power usage, and Sugar interface--"vapourware". Yes, it's more expensive than hoped, but it's still pretty darn cheap, quite revolutionary, and as real as any solid. Vapourware? Come on! []
  • by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Saturday September 15, 2007 @04:44AM (#20614359) Journal

    The EURO market is the biggest single-currency market in the world.

    The Euro market is only nominally larger than the USD market. An impressive accomplishment still, but try not to over-hype it.

    The EU isn't nearly as strong of a confederation as a single country (the US) and those independent nations can potentially chose to opt out of the group/market.

    So I don't think the dollar has anything to worry about. The Euro includes a bit more risk, is a bit less open, and really just doesn't offer anything substantially better. I'm sure most will simply continue using the USD.
  • by mosb1000 ( 710161 ) <> on Saturday September 15, 2007 @04:54AM (#20614403)
    "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 already have everything in place to produce it."

    No, in the case of 32MB ram chips, the factories are not set up to produce it at all, because no one uses it. They've all moved on the more modern, cost effective technologies. Moreover the majority of the cost here is coming from the actual cost of assembling the machine. The ram and flash memory are inexpensive.
  • 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.
  • Perspective (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Kelsin5 ( 741493 ) on Saturday September 15, 2007 @10:13AM (#20615743) Homepage
    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 is to let the price drop now that hardware is set in stone.

    Just have to remember that you're getting a much different machine when buying one of these then buying a 300 dollar computer with monitor.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 15, 2007 @11:10AM (#20616181)
    It's $100 after an $88 rebate*

    Rebate offer void outside the us, owner of the laptop must be over 18 to qualify for rebate, rebates may be honored, honored rebates may take 4 to 6 weeks for processing but likely will arrive in 6 months to never. In the event a rebate is issued the rebate check may only be cached after 30 days of recieving it but no later than 31 days (rebates may never be cashed or deposited, only cached). Rebates received before the 30 day waiting period and after the 25 period to mail in rebates will be discarded.
  • Re:ASUS Eee (Score:3, Insightful)

    by enrevanche ( 953125 ) on Saturday September 15, 2007 @11:31AM (#20616329)
    The OLPC is not aimed at one who might as well get an Asus EEE instead.


    • 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 for learning. For many things the source is just there, no internet download required.

    These laptops are designed for children, especially in developing countries, not the Starbuck's MySpace/Facebook crowd.

  • Re:rehash (Score:2, Insightful)

    by wirelessbuzzers ( 552513 ) on Saturday September 15, 2007 @12:50PM (#20616977)

    We're being punished for noticing.
    No, we're being punished for bitching about it. Cuz, like, bitching about Slashdot's quality isn't on topic for a thread on OLPC.
  • by jim_deane ( 63059 ) on Saturday September 15, 2007 @01:09PM (#20617137) Journal

    I believe the thought is that the previous attempts to provide infrastructure, hospitals and contraception have done little to impact the overall situation in Africa.

    This attempt attempts to provide access to education and communication, with the thought that a better educated populace that has access to communication and technology would be able to improve their own quality of life.

    Kind of like the "give a man a fish/teach a man to fish" adage. Plus, giving a community contraception and hospitals are really consumables. Education, once given, can't be taken away.

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