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One Laptop Per Child not for sale?

an image of Nicholas Negroponte and Kofi Annan demonstrating the OLPC laptop computerDespite the idea of selling the XO laptop as a consumer device to the likes of you & me, Nicholas Negroponte, One Laptop Per Child chairman has since scotched the idea .. for now, anyway.

As rumours go, selling the XO laptop as a ‘buy-2-get-1 arrangement’ was certainly very nice while it lasted:

“The One Laptop Per Child project has set up shop at CES, and for good reason. The Project is drumming up interest in its quest to bring personal computing technology to the world’s poorest children. The project may also be gauging product interest among consumers in the so-called “developed world.” If the formula can be worked out, there may be a way to fund the project in part using revenues from a consumer release.”

The idea has merit, but Negroponte has spoke, and his is the final word:

“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,…”

However, it’s clear that while the idea is off the table for now, it may just have been placed on the back-burner:

“Many commercial schemes have been considered and proposed that may surface in 2008 or beyond, one of which is ‘buy 2 and get 1,’…”

Giving this some serious thought for a second, even if they were to offer a double-priced version of the XO to the western public, there’s the non-too-trivial task of sales & distribution.

The damn thing would pretty much market itself, but for the One Laptop Per Child to function and focus on its primary goal – that of providing a laptop to children in developing countries for free – what they don’t want is mission creep, which would quite possibly cause some loss of focus on the job at hand.

Which tells me that Nicholas Negroponte and team don’t really want to even think about selling these things right now…

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By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

2 replies on “One Laptop Per Child not for sale?”

A low cost iPhone or iPod would be better given to children in underdeveloped countries since these devices are going to replace the laptop. Notebook and netbook before long anyway.

Hi Rose, I think that’s a very prescient observation.

That said, the size of the screen would be a limiting factor. But that’s not to discount the possibility of including an iPhone-like device…

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