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OLPC and the "Innovator's Opportunity" 64

viralMeme sends in a piece from OLPC News featuring a video interview with Pixel Qi's Mary Lou Jepson. The interview goes over some of the improvements in the company's extremely power-efficient screen technology that will show up in the next generations of the OLPC. The article links a video side-by-side comparison among Pixel Qi, Kindle, and Toshiba R600 displays in sunlight and in shade; Pixel Qi is arguably more readable than Kindle, and in full color. Jepson refers to Clayton Christenson's 1997 classic The Innovator's Dilemma, explaining a seeming paradox in high-tech: why companies that listen to their customers aren't the ones that innovate. According to the article it's mainly because "the next big market isn't with your current customers. It's with a vastly larger group of would-be users who couldn't afford your previous products, or couldn't carry around the huge devices of previous generations." Jepson says, "The cool thing about the Pixel Qi technology is, you know, poor kids in Africa got it first... It's the classic Innovator's Dilemma."
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OLPC and the "Innovator's Opportunity"

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  • Not a paradox (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 03, 2009 @05:00PM (#29630099)

    "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses."

    You listen to your customers because they mostly can't articulate what they want. But you do have to understand their needs.
    The OLPC is a stupid idea, because it's based on the assumption that the needs of poor kids in Africa are unique.

    The first company that realizes the obvious, and sticks a power efficient screen in an ergonomic form factor, ignores all Microsoft attacks and bribes to make it run 7, and makes it almost disposable cheap... ...will have a product that the whole world will stampede to buy.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 03, 2009 @05:49PM (#29630473)
    The newest stuff does full color in direct sun, and apparently the generation after this will cut power consumption by a bunch.

    Yes, and if you believed everything that Mary Lou Jepson has been saying over the past year or so, we should have seen Pixel Qi screens in laptops/netbooks by now. And yet there still hasn't even been an announcement of a device that will use the screen in the semi-near future. I'm sure it will come eventually, but I don't exactly expect it to live up to the hype that it's been getting, especially since the only one that's really hyping it up is Mary Lou Jepson.
  • Re:Not a paradox (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lawpoop ( 604919 ) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @06:29PM (#29630793) Homepage Journal

    It's always helpful to deconstruct your customer's or client's feedback into outcomes or objectives instead of technical specifications. And if they ask for something specific it's usually a good idea to define whether they really want that in specific thing or there is some specific attribute of that thing that think is unique to it.

    The thing about that is that you have to talk them into the idea that what you're offering is *really* want they want, not what they already think they want. Which takes some marketing and salesmanship savvy. If people have made a decision ( " I need a brigher backlight" ) it takes a lot of work to get them to change their position.

  • Re:Not a paradox (Score:5, Insightful)

    by abigsmurf ( 919188 ) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @06:38PM (#29630869)
    Can we drop the whole 'microsoft killed the OLPC' thing? The more extreme OSS advocates did far more damage to the devices success than MS ever did with their belief that making a device as Open source as possible (apparently Africa is full of 10 year old kernel programmers) was far more important than getting it into the hands of as many kids as possible. The second signs were shown that having the device open source played second fiddle to more important concerns, the device was viciously attacked by these people.

    People in the west were screaming to buy this product but negroponte refused to sell it to the west. Selling them at a slight markup could have funded charitable donations, as well as drive the prices down. When he did offer it for sale, it was with a stupid 100% markup for which you could, by then buy a much more powerful eeepc and have money left over.
  • Hard figures (Score:5, Insightful)

    by abigsmurf ( 919188 ) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @06:51PM (#29630947)
    I've read lots of vague new stories about this over the past few months and seen lots of videos but I'd like them to just release some proper technical specs without having to parse a collection of transcribed press releases and watch dull 10 minute videos.

    how much exactly does a screen cost at each size?
    Resolution at each size or DPI?
    response time?
    Power usage in W?
  • Re:Not a paradox (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @10:06PM (#29631943) Homepage Journal

    The world is stampeding to by the BSD based iPhone though. They like the shiny interface. The difference is marketing.

  • by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @03:49AM (#29633347)
    The sad part is OLPC could have cornered the netbook market before any of the competition knew it existed. It is so obvious that OLPC should have released a consumer version (say in black with slighty modified specs and form factor). It would have sold by the shit ton and helped fund the educational arm.

    Instead OLPC twiddled its thumbs and Asus, Acer and others stole the market from right under them. I still think OLPC could salvage something by doing a commercial variant. After all, it still has some advantages over the competition, not least of which its designed for kids. Lots of parents would buy an OLPC for their kid if they could walk into Toys R Us and buy one off the shelf.

  • Old news (Score:2, Insightful)

    by stasike ( 1063564 ) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @04:28AM (#29633483)

    You forgot to tag the article as "old news".

    We have seen all those videos long time ago.

  • RatOot (Score:2, Insightful)

    by RatOot ( 1403949 ) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @07:32AM (#29633923)
    Please read http://perniciousolpc.wordpress.com/ [wordpress.com] and comment.

"Yeah, but you're taking the universe out of context."