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1 Million OLPCs Already On Order 158

Posted by Zonk
from the lots-of-happy-kids dept.
alphadogg writes "Quanta Computer has confirmed orders for 1 million notebook PCs for the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project. The article goes into some background on the project, and lays out the enthusiastic adoption that the project is seeing overseas. The company estimates they'll ship somewhere between 5 and 10 Million units this year, with 7 countries already signed up to receive units. The machines currently cost $130, but with that kind of volume the original goal of $100 a machine may be viable. Even with the low cost, Quanta expects to make a small profit on each machine, making charity work that much easier."
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1 Million OLPCs Already On Order

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  • by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:29PM (#18030094) Homepage

    You're right. Just think of all those Bank of America accounts waiting to be robbed. Or the PayPal accounts. Or...

    I don't think this will be a big problem. I don't think these children would be good phishing targets when relatively rich Americans, Europeans, etc are such easy targets.

  • Targets? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Slashdot Parent (995749) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:32PM (#18030142)
    Don't you think that the reverse would be true? Using OLPC machines to launch phishing attacks?
  • Re:I don't get it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grommit (97148) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:33PM (#18030160)
    You're right, you don't get it.

    These laptops aren't for areas where there is mass starvation. It's for areas where people can, generally, feed themselves and get by okay but that's about it. Educating these children with computers so they can get a bit of a leg up on their parents would serve them to help areas in their country that *do* have starving people.
  • Re:I don't get it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by petabyte (238821) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:34PM (#18030172)
    If a child is starving and illiterate, because he lives in an area where the people do not possess enough basic intelligence to feed themselves or create schools, what good is a computer?

    In most areas in the world where children are starving and/or are illterate, it has nothing to do with people "not possess[ing] enough basic intelligence to feed themselves or create schools".

    If not troll, then flamebait or "insensitive clod" (which is being overly nice) might apply.
  • Re:I don't get it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by plalonde2 (527372) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:37PM (#18030230)
    There's a long continuum between "starving and illiterate" and first-world levels of comfort.

    People think of "all the starving children" in Africa (and yes, there are many) but neglect to think about all the not-starving-but-not-getting-ahead children in developing countries. The OLPC gamble is to raise up the standard of living that part of the population and hope that trickle-down economics will raise the standard elsewhere. If the OLPC makes education easier (or more compatible with the 21st century), the result might well be a general improvement in standards of living in the developing world.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:38PM (#18030260)
    If a child is starving and illiterate, because he lives in an area where the people do not possess enough basic intelligence to feed themselves or create schools, what good is a computer?

    OK, though I find this whole effort of limited usefulness, I'm getting a bit tired of these simple minded retorts. The point of the laptop isn't to give one to a kid living in a tribe that doesn't have electricity and farms and hunts for food. There are millions of kids that sit in that in between area of being in a minimum of a semi developed area (i.e. they have something resembling a centralized school system) whose only exposure to the "outside world" is through Gilligans Island reruns. My issue is that it would still seem to me much more beneficial to apply the money to strengthening other infrastructure (making sure the schools have money and trained teachers, having more tutors to help kids since there is a high probability that their parents are illiterate, building up colleges and universities, helping underlying economic infrastructure of their regions so having an education actually does you some good, etc). The choice isn't between a bag of rice or a laptop.
  • Re:I don't get it. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lally Singh (3427) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:38PM (#18030262) Journal
    You think it's a lack of intelligence that makes those conditions so rough? Try reading up on history & politics. Good God man.
  • Re:I Want One (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hijacked Public (999535) * on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:40PM (#18030282)
    I want one as well, mostly for the high res B&W screen.

    Early on in this project I thought the public would be able to buy one at an inflated price (something like $300), the inflated portion of which would be used to send more laptops to more kids.

    OLPC can make mine any color they want and I'd happily give them 3x their cost today. I'd buy two or three for myself at that price if it helped further the project's aim.
  • Re:cost breakdown? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hijacked Public (999535) * on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:43PM (#18030354)
    I bet Quanta has.
  • Re:I don't get it. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:52PM (#18030504)
    You're making a false assumption that because some areas of the world do not have the ability to grow enough food or have enough information to make different choices that they're not capable of benefiting.

    God damn.
  • by benhocking (724439) <benjaminhocking @ y a h o o . c om> on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:53PM (#18030528) Homepage Journal
    If the profit goes back into the charity to do other work or R&D on a $50 version, then that does not make it any less of a charity.
  • Re:I don't get it. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:56PM (#18030568)
    Actually it is backwards. In the most food rich countries, it is most people that would starve to death rather quickly if they couldn't buy their food as fast food or supermarket. The people that are barely able to feed themselves, are actually feeding themselves by themselves, not buying crap in stores.
  • by JLavezzo (161308) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @06:03PM (#18030678) Homepage
    Considering the comments on other Slashdot articles about the OLPC project, I'm sure there are a couple dozen other Slashdotters ready to chime in, but I'll make a try at answering your confusion.

    The way I see your misunderstanding here is that you're not seeing the range of development that exists throughout the world. International development efforts that have been going on for the last 60-70 years have produced some results. Here's an example of that range of development: one of the countries who has signed up is Brazil. I don't think I've heard any news lately about starving in Brazil. And for other parts of the world without as many resources as Brazil, the level of development, be it food distribution, levels of employment or availability of education varies greatly depending on what part of that country you might be in.

    I'll give an example from Malawi, a country that's been in the news lately because of Madonna. I have been there a couple times and have family and lots of friends there. A child in the lower Shire valley may have parents who are subsistence farmers, be very susceptible to food shortages due to fluctuations in weather and not have a very functional school, or not be able to afford school fees.

    However, a child in or around Lilongwe, Blantrye, Limbe or Mulangi may have one or more members of his extended family with a steady job, and enough money to put food on the table and live in a house with clean running water. The child is likely to go to a school Monday through Friday and Saturday mornings, too. Problem is, the education materials are not available to give this child a very good education. There may not be enough books to go around. The books might be poorly written or just too old to have good information in them. The school might not teach certain subjects because the materials are not available. Forget about a library. And, the school certainly doesn't have a computer lab.

    This is where the OLPC computers shine. They're text books, research tools, communication and collaboration devices and, a technology education. I think the cost-benefit ratio makes them a good deal. They're not getting air-lifted by the Red Cross to Darfur refugees. But they are something a Minister of Education can put into his budget, along with proper funding for training and maintenance.

    I hope this helps put their efforts into perspective.
  • by ClayJar (126217) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @06:16PM (#18030936) Homepage
    Quanta is building the laptops for OLPC, but that doesn't mean Quanta is a nonprofit. A church pastor can eat at McDonalds without McD's turning nonprofit. Habitat can get building supplies donated, but if they have to buy something from Home Depot, HD doesn't have to write off any profit on it (although giving a discount would be nice).

    Frankly, if Quanta wasn't making at least *something* on each, there would be a solid business reason *not* to build them for OLPC.
  • Re:I Want One (Score:3, Insightful)

    by StikyPad (445176) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @06:36PM (#18031202) Homepage
    Maybe *you* would (although, if you would, I suspect it's only to keep your word), but the rest of us probably wouldn't, especially if someone else was selling them for less, which is *exactly* what would happen if they tried to do what you suggest. Instead of keeping their laptops, people would sell them for the equivelant of a month/year's salary in their country. In fact, I think this is highly likely to happen as it stands. I think it will go something like this:

    Laptops are distributed to villiage in Africa.
    Local warlord offers $5 per laptop and/or just takes them.
    Nobody has a laptop, and thousands of them spring up on eBay.

    Nobody will buy an OLPC for $900 when they can get one on eBay for $50.

    Until the potential recipients have their basic needs met, they're not going to care about these laptops. The best thing to do, IMHO, is to simply sell them to anyone at the same price, rather than trying to create some sort of artificial market (by trying to sell them to others for $900), especially when it's already going to be highly tempting for people to sell these things on the grey market.
  • Re:I don't get it. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AK Marc (707885) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @06:36PM (#18031212)
    Have you been outside the US? There are some very poor towns. They have food, but no teachers, no schools, not much to do but sit around. The kids aren't going to starve, but they are also not going to learn anything. That's who these are targeted for. Let the governemnt build some coursework for this and pass them out in the towns.

    I don't get it.

    That makes me think you haven't traveled much.
  • by rueger (210566) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @06:36PM (#18031216) Homepage
    The machines currently cost $130, but with that kind of volume the original goal of $100 a machine may be viable.

    Really, this kind of comment is rather meaningless for a product that will ship to countries outside of the US. The rise in relative price from $100 to $130 could just reflect the decline in the $US [x-rates.com] on International exchange markets.
  • by ADRA (37398) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @06:42PM (#18031320)
    The parent is more of an extreme cynic than a troll and as such, I'll chime in to rebuke.

    Ways that computer educated masses will help their more unfortunate brethren:

    1. Some societies actually -help- one another if they have the means. I know it may seem like an alien concept, but it does happen.

    2. Forget the altruism
    If you have a bunch of kids that were never trained in computers during adolescence, they're less likely to develop computer skills that could actually get them employed in the future. Even if they got into the lowest of low end IT jobs, they'd still be making a lot more money than if they hadn't.

    Now if some of those kids do end up getting computer literate and end up occupying better jobs than they could previously, a portion of their hard earned cash will flow into the government's coffers. One would hope (though not guaranteed) that this influx of money will be used to benefitting their country as a whole. So even if an individual has no interest at helping someone worse off than themselves, they're still locked into a system of helping them, though indirectly.

    The only 'losers' in the whole struggle are those that compete for the same jobs. That of course feeds into the gigantic and very twisted discussion about globalism which I dare not enter without flame protection!
  • by dr.badass (25287) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @07:03PM (#18031598) Homepage
    I haven't seen a single starving bum on the street.

    He may have been a bum, but he damn sure wasn't starving. He may have been hungry, but he wasn't starving. He may not have eaten in days, but he wasn't starving. If you saw him on a street in the US, he wasn't starving.
  • Re:I Want One (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 15, 2007 @07:04PM (#18031620)
    Not a lot of warlords in Brazil and Libya, yunno.
  • by nuzak (959558) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @07:09PM (#18031702) Journal
    > they have a hard time grasping the *meaning* of multiplication

    I had to memorize the "times tables" in grade school. I came away from my education grasping about as much meaning as the kid with a calculator. All the finger-wagging old farts have been fucking up math education for more than a hundred years, so I can hardly see how technology could do more damage.
  • by chris_sawtell (10326) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @09:39PM (#18033524) Journal
    Why do so many of the postings about the OLPC show that most of the, presumably American, /. posters have so little knowledge about the the rest of the world that one wants to weep for them?

    Just as in the US, there is a huge range of material wealth everywhere in the world. There are a few pits of horrible moral and material deprivation, and there are a few globules of excessive wealth, but, just as in the US, most people live in the in-between.

    The OLPC is intended to fit into this in-between. People and their children who have sufficient, but not an excess of, food, and a simple roof over their heads. The OLPC is NOT primarily intended to be used to teach children how to use computers. It is primarily to be used as an extra to, and to some extent a replacement for, good old fashioned printed books, which are, for the target communities, extremely expensive. Your 99 Euro machine is about the same price as the books needed for a child for only a year or two. After that you are saving money.

    Exactly what is it about the above that is so difficult to understand?

    And yes, I do think that the OLPC should be sold unsupported on ebay, with anything over the basic $130 being counted as a charitable donation. ebay ones should be any colour as long as they're black. Don't worry about support. That would grow organically as needed, and the network wireless mesh would fix the 'last kilometre' internet access problem.

  • Re:I Want One (Score:3, Insightful)

    by StikyPad (445176) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @10:46PM (#18034090) Homepage
    You're right. I bet nobody else would take advantage of widespread poverty except warlords. Thanks for finding the deep-seated flaw in my logic.

    Good news folks: I was mistaken and everything will be fine!
  • Re:I Want One (Score:3, Insightful)

    by StikyPad (445176) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @11:18PM (#18034322) Homepage
    Whether or not they hit that target, or if that target can resist making a quick buck, remains to be seen.

I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve immortality through not dying. -- Woody Allen

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