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One Laptop Per Child project hits 1m orders

an image of Nicholas Negroponte and Kofi Annan demonstrating the OLPC laptop computerThe first million milestone has been reached reached for the One Laptop Per Child project.

With the likes of Quanta Computer, the worlds largest contract computer manufacturer behind the production of the OLPC laptop, dubbed the XO, it’s a major step towards driving the cost of production down even further:

“Quanta Computer, the world’s largest contract laptop PC manufacturer, already has confirmed orders for one million notebook PCs for the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project,…”

I’ve personally not read too much about the expectations of driving the costs down below the much fabled and talked about $100, but it has to be a thought at the back of the minds of those behind the OLPC project.

However, in real terms, the XO has yet to close in on the target $100 price tag, but this news is definitely a step in the right direction:

“Quanta said it could ship between 5 million to 10 million units this year because seven nations have already signed up for the project. That may be enough to reduce the costs and meet the $100 goal sooner than expected.”

It seems like an age since the project was announced, and there have been some notable moments along the way.

What with confirmation that the XO isn’t for general release as a laptop, to critics picking the OLPC project to pieces from every angle, as well as Bill Gates and Microsoft attempting to muscle their way in on the XO laptop, it’s a testimony to the single-mindedness of those involved, and the desire to remain true to the original goal the One Laptop Per Child project has come this far.

Share and share alike

In the mind of Nicholas Negroponte, the plan was (or rather still is) for the richer countries to buy the XO laptop in volume to then donate to poorer nations.

Whether this will happen or not is a question of politics, timing and the inevitable and unenviable issue of diplomacy. What we do know is that several nations have signed on the dotted line for the OLPC project:

“The governments that have committed to buy laptops for their schoolchildren include Argentina, Brazil, Libya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Thailand, and Uruguay.”

Absent from this list – and notable for being so – would be the USA, Britain, France and Germany, all of which are very much able to dig deep.

Irrespective of the determination of Nicholas Negroponte el al, for the One Laptop Per Child project to succeed by any measure – small or otherwise – some very high-level governmental assistance is going to be required to make things run smoothly…

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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.

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