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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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  • I Want One (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Thursday February 15, 2007 @04:26PM (#18030038) Homepage

    I still want one bad. I want them to sell them to geeks like us. I've thought of a few ideas on that front:

    • Overcharging to help pay for them for other countries or invest in more production
    • Make them a different color so it is obvious that they were purchased for individuals and not by a government
    • Sell lower power ones to us so software we write or help develop HAS to be nimble to run on our machines and so it will run even better on the real OLPCs

    My only hope that I know of right now is a contest [olpcnews.com] to design a game for them in which you can win an OLPC.

    I really want one. I want it I want it I want it I want it I want it...

    Can't wait to see what kind of cool things people do with these little laptops.

    • I really want one. I want it I want it I want it I want it I want it... Can't wait to see what kind of cool things people do with these little laptops.

      Why not focus that energy on a Chumby [chumby.com], in the meantime?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      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:I Want One (Score:4, Informative)

        by Pollardito (781263) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:20PM (#18030990)

        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.
        that's because someone ran an unofficial petition of "i'd buy one for 3x the price, with the extra profit going toward a donation of 2 for third-world countries" that was promoted on Slashdot many, many times. only some of those times was it made clear that the petition was not at all affiliated with the real project, so i think a lot of people assumed that if they got enough signatures it might happen or that it was already a planned program.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by StikyPad (445176)
        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
        • Why do so many people assume these are targeted toward rural villages in Africa? There are a *lot* of people in this world that don't live in highly-industrialized USA, Europe, or eastern Asia, but DO have access to the basic necessities of life, and could make very good use of these devices.

          Besides, since these laptops are not being *given* away, who would buy these for the village in your example, if not the warlord himself? The competing warlord from the next village down the road?
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by baeksu (715271)
          StikyPad:

          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.

          Whereas the article:

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

          These are not countries where the population sits starving in the middle of the desert, like in some Southpark episode, ok? Not every kid in a poor country is a sta

        • First of all, as you said: hocking on Ebay will happen whether they're legitimately made available to the general public or not.

          Second, that's exactly why people are advocating making the "general public" version a different color: so that the hocked version would be instantly distinguishable from it, in order to shame those who would buy off Ebay. Personally, I think it's a great idea and would work well.

          Also, for the record, even though I'm a college student (and therefore don't have much money), I'd bu

    • by Alwin Henseler (640539) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:23PM (#18031030) Homepage

      I want them to sell them to geeks like us. I've thought of a few ideas on that front

      I think the OLPC project is making a huge mistake if they don't throw these laptops onto the commercial market, for anyone to buy.

      Why? Because of the economies of scale, and extra funds raised. These laptops get cheaper the more you make. If you can sell another hundred thousand of them on the commercial market, produced numbers go up the same. Whatever number you were producing before, these will become cheaper as a result. Perhaps just a little, but when you're aiming for a $100 laptop, everything helps.

      Secondly, you can sell them commercially for more, make a profit, and use that profit to give the charity/education part of the project a boost. Others have suggested to double the (commercial) price, and use it to send an extra laptop to developing nations. I think maybe extra funds would be better used for supporting OLPC's already out there, for example by supporting communication infrastructure, software projects targeting the OLPC, or developing new uses/markets for these machines.

      And yes, I'd like one too. And not just geeks, I think this would be a perfect tool for grandma's and some percentage of ordinary home PC users. To many people, a PC is still a massive, complex, and intimidating machine. The $100 laptop is smaller, quieter, energy-efficient, likely more secure, and simpler to use. Limited in power/storage, but sufficient for many tasks. Perfect for young kids, to read recipes on in the kitchen, check your e-mail, look up a word for a crossword puzzle, or play a game of Tetris on the train. Why again are these $100 laptops NOT sold to everyone who wants one?

      --
      I'll have one in semi-transparent purple, with a couple of Gig more flash memory, thanks. Interested to serve as local reseller/support in my area.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by emj (15659)
        OLPC has stated that it doesn't want to get into the commercial distribution game, it's a tricky thing sales and distribution is a big cost for most companies.. You know, they just want to order them from a generic plant in Taiwan/China and then dump them in a container with a big fat "Lybia" sticker on the side. This is very different from the business of delivering and marketing a PC for the masses like DELL does.

        When you order from Dell take a look at what they charge for shipping, I was going to pay 15
        • by TeamSPAM (166583)

          I can understand and agree that the OLPC shouldn't focus on selling these things commerically in the US. That being said, I also think that they should consider a partnership with someone who is willing to sell and support them. They should charge about 3x the cost of hardware. 1/3 to cover the cost of the hardware, 1/3 goes to OLPC and the final 1/3 goes to reseller for customer support. Granted the things are supposed to be rugged, but when it breaks people will want an RMA# to send it back for repairs. O

        • by smithmc (451373) *

          OLPC has stated that it doesn't want to get into the commercial distribution game, it's a tricky thing sales and distribution is a big cost for most companies.. You know, they just want to order them from a generic plant in Taiwan/China and then dump them in a container with a big fat "Lybia" sticker on the side. This is very different from the business of delivering and marketing a PC for the masses like DELL does.

          They could let Quanta sell them to a third party vendor, that could distribute them

      • by suggsjc (726146)
        I know there are reasons, but they *might* end up having an interesting situation. Lets just say the gov'ts buy these things and give them to students. They like the concept of learning...until they realize they can put it up on eBay for $300 (there was a post earlier about how someone said they'd pay that for one).

        The more they get out the door and the more generally available they become the more the prices will drop and a whole bunch of other good economy of scale type of things too (more people writ
        • ...or even sold, I expect.

          Part of the spec appears to be that the right to connect can be recinded, and the laptop disabled, so the incentive to steal one is small. Add that commercial ones (if any) would be a different colour, and it would be obvious that your laptop wasn't kosher, unless you had a direct link with the OLPC.

          The OLPC could make things even easier by making sure that helpers got the adult/commercial version, so that there was no ambiguity.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Shadow99_1 (86250)
        I'd love to have some for a project I'm working on for the charter school I work at. A lot of the kids I deal with can be just as poor as people in Africa (only eat because they get free meals at school, no running water at home, no heat in their houses during winter, their house itself is barely more than a shack as it doesn't even have insulation and is falling apart, etc). This is in the 4th largest city in Pennsylvania, not a village in Africa... Yet conditions are hardly better than places these would
    • a lot of folks do (Score:2, Interesting)

      by zogger (617870)
      I'd bet a buck that within a month or so of mass deployment of them that clones start hitting the market. And as such, they certainly couldn't charge a whole lot for them either. and maybe they will be easier to upgrade (more RAM and Flash memory, etc, as options). I mean, with millions out there, how are they going to avoid it? There's an obvious good market for something like these things, given all the commentary on every OLPC article here.

      I know I'd like to have a low energy usage, built tough, self pow
    • by dr.badass (25287)
      I really want one. I want it I want it I want it I want it I want it...

      Don't worry. As soon as they drop, thousands of them will be up for grabs online. When unscrupulous persons discover that the "free" computers are worth $200-$300 USD or more to Americans geeks, they will find a way to cash in. Given the exchange rates in some of the OLPC countries (e.g. 1 US Dollar = 133.236 Nigerian Naira), there is no question. It's sad, but inevitable.

      I'm not admonishing people that want one, or OLPC for "not doi
    • by renoX (11677)
      >I still want one bad.

      Given that the keyboard is made for children (i.e. it's small), I'm not sure that it would be a good computer for adults..

      • Given that the keyboard is made for children (i.e. it's small), I'm not sure that it would be a good computer for adults..

        It has USB ports, so add a full-sized keyboard for serious work. When that's not possible, you can console yourself with the knowledge that most notebook keyboards suck.

    • An N800 is maybe better for people who can afford to have other full sized computers.

      http://www.nokiausa.com/N800/1,9008,feat:1,00.html [nokiausa.com]

  • Even with the low cost, Quanta expects to make a small profit on each machine, making charity work that much easier.

    Has anyone done a cost breakdown of the machine components?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    1. Make a $100 laptop
    2. Charge $130
    3. Profit!
  • Spam (Score:4, Funny)

    by crapjunk123 (1064708) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @04:39PM (#18030276)
    Just what I need, more spam from Nigeria...
  • Great! (Score:4, Funny)

    by bobcat7677 (561727) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @04:42PM (#18030328) Homepage
    Now every child, even the poor ones, can have access to the vast porn resources of the internet!
  • by stratjakt (596332) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @04:42PM (#18030340) Journal
    Now every kid can be molested through MySpace.

    What age are these targetted at? I honestly feel that, at least here in the US, computers are already too prevelant at the elementary level. Teaching kids computer skills is a noble goal, but IMO, not one they're ready for until, say, grade 9-ish.

    What ends up happening is they teach the kid to use a crutch. Instead of practicing arithmetic, they let kids in grade 3 (!) just use calculators. My kids only know the times tables because I *made* them learn it. Flashcards and practice, just like I did (I had a hard time with it too). They already forgive me for it. My son is seen as a "math prodigy", to use his teachers words - and quite frankly (not to denigrate him), his abilities are what I would consider average for his age. He isn't like moved on to precalculus on his own, or anything like that. He can add, subtract, multiply and divide simple numbers in his head. This makes him a prodigy in the modern US education system. ouch.

    Repeat for spelling. The school could give a shit. Here's how spelling is taught - "OK KIDS, CLICK SPELL CHECK". They're, there, their, who cares.

    Eventually, yes, computer skills become important, fundamental even. I just worry how they're to be used in class, that's all. I sure hope they aren't going to be expected to replace teachers, and I hope budget-strapped schools favor good staff over 100 dollar laptops.

    "One Laptop Per Child" just sounds so much like "No Child Left Behind" the mere association makes me raise an eyebrow.

    In the long run, though, it could be good for the US, if we can make the rest of the worlds children as stupid and ill-prepared as our own. The question is, how to instill that false sense of entitlement in kids around the world.
    • by danpsmith (922127)

      What ends up happening is they teach the kid to use a crutch. Instead of practicing arithmetic, they let kids in grade 3 (!) just use calculators. My kids only know the times tables because I *made* them learn it. Flashcards and practice, just like I did (I had a hard time with it too). They already forgive me for it. My son is seen as a "math prodigy", to use his teachers words - and quite frankly (not to denigrate him), his abilities are what I would consider average for his age. He isn't like moved on to

      • by Golias (176380)
        Reminds me of how impressed I made a girl because I could calculate what everyone owed for a meal without thinking too hard about it. The dumb age has officially arrived, not only are people using spell check to go between there their and they're, they don't even know the difference in some cases. I start to feel like a rare minority some days...

        Perhaps you need to stop hanging around so many stupid people. That, or learn a little patience and tolerance.

        Think back to your school days. How many of your cla
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Golias (176380)
      What ends up happening is they teach the kid to use a crutch. Instead of practicing arithmetic, they let kids in grade 3 (!) just use calculators. My kids only know the times tables because I *made* them learn it. Flashcards and practice, just like I did (I had a hard time with it too). They already forgive me for it. My son is seen as a "math prodigy", to use his teachers words - and quite frankly (not to denigrate him), his abilities are what I would consider average for his age. He isn't like moved on to
      • by MBCook (132727)

        Look, you laugh (I hope your post was just a joke and meant as a valid point), but it's true.

        I can't spell all that well, I've always known that. My grammar skills are similarly lacking. But I can do math.

        My little sister (14) can't. She can't spell (a family trait compounded by computer use since she was little thanks to the "computers are the magic bullet" theory of modern education). I suspect her grammar is similar (I haven't read a paper she has written in a long time).

        But her Math skills are terrib

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Golias (176380)
          Lots of people get by in life without being able to do arithmetic in their heads. They can balance their checkbooks and everything. Why? Because you can walk into any dime store and pick up a machine that will do it for you.

          Are you better off knowing how to divide 72 by 9 in your head? Sure, when it comes up in daily life it's handy not to have to reach for the calculator.

          However, with the energy that you and I once applied to rote memorization of multiplication tables, some of those kids could be learn
    • by MBCook (132727)

      I agree that the computers in the US are largely wasted. But there are a few things to remember. First is that computers are taught as something you need to get a job. You won't get a job if you can't use Word and Outlook and Powerpoint (so the theory seems) so they teach them. They are basically the replacement of the typing classes that they gave in the 60s and 70s. In the areas where these are going to be distributed that's not the case (I'm guessing). Computers in education in the US exist so little Joh

      • by Shadow99_1 (86250)
        Some schools do understand how to use computers. I know as I am the Network Admin for a charter school. Their are some wonderful things that can help kids learn and assist in educating kids that can only be done with a PC.

        Did you read the story yesterday on Slashdot about NASA's former World Wind project that is now Open Source? It would be incredibly useful in teaching kids about weather, geography, and topology. And I mentioned it to the technology director (who is also the head of middle school curriculu
    • by vhogemann (797994)
      Well,

      These laptops can connect to the net, sure... but I think the main network they'll be acessing is the mesh network formed by the other kid's laptops.

      Also, they access internet trougth a gateway placed at the local school, a simple content filter for squid-proxy like Dans-Guardian or Chastity will do the trick. They can filter who can access the internet by filtering MAC or IP addresses, so the laptops owned by children under a centain age wouldn't pass.

      These laptops won't be directly connected to the i
      • "These laptops won't be directly connected to the internet."

        Yes, they will. Those kids will come to the house of friends that have net acess. Or if that is impossible, they'll learn to break the system.

        There is no bored sysadmin that can't be beaten by a well motivated child.

    • by evilviper (135110)

      Eventually, yes, computer skills become important, fundamental even. I just worry how they're to be used in class, that's all. I sure hope they aren't going to be expected to replace teachers, and I hope budget-strapped schools favor good staff over 100 dollar laptops.

      It's hard to learn how to spell when there's one dictionary every 20 miles...

      It's hard to learn to learn arithmetic when your school can't afford to buy more than a handful of math books.

      It's hard to learn about a lot of things, when you don't

    • Yeah computers shouldn't be a crutch. But c'mon, there's no point in *not* teaching kids how to use one. My 6 and 3 year old children surf the net, draw in paint, IM and email me at work and shoot each other in CounterStrike. With the right software you can even help them learn times tables and spelling etc.
    • by strider44 (650833)
      I think that this is more for situations where they don't have good enough teachers around to excel or even to become interested in something. The olpc interface is nothing like modern interfaces so it can hardly be considered purely teaching "computer skills", and this isn't going to the first world. I agree with your point about computers in first world schools, however I don't think it's quite on-topic here.
    • It's really easy to learn things as a small child, and it becomes progressively more difficult as one gets older. If we held off teaching basic pre-algebra until people were 16 years old, only the most utterly brilliant people would ever learn calculus.

      On the other hand, with the way you're putting down computers, you might be one of the people who thinks that Math is overrated too. I've heard people say "I can't think of any reason I'd ever use Algebra, much less Calculus. We should cut Math budgets in sc

  • by cmeans (81143)

    Quanta expects to make a small profit on each machine, making charity work that much easier.

    Can it still be considered Charity [wikipedia.org] if one is making a Profit [wikipedia.org]? Does it count as charity if you're just not making as much profit as you'd like?

    Seems to me that they're confused.
  • by viking2000 (954894) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @04:57PM (#18030580)
    I'll buy a stack of these for things like:
    -Universal remote
    -home automation
    -kids games
    -nursing room monitor
    -Entrance door camera/display/speaker/mic
    -Asterisk PBX
    -Picture frame for grandma
    -etc
    • by monopole (44023)
      Distributed Grid Emergency Response:
      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/6364301.stm [bbc.co.uk]
      They're cheap, take a lot of punishment, automatically form ad-hoc wifi meshes, and can be recharged via hand cranking or solar power. With a firmware add-on and an emergency mode switch they could be used for emergency broadcast, first responder requests, and local disaster coordination.

      Toss on a dirt cheap low power cellphone GPS for location awareness, and implement traffic control (and using compressed text messages) t
  • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:12PM (#18030850) Homepage Journal
    Instead of faster, faster, faster, the OLPC is using Moore's Law for cheaper, cheaper, cheaper. Currently the OLPC costs about $130 per unit.. if demand keeps up, in 12 months we can expect that to drop to the goal of $100, but then what? That's right, those components which fall under Moore's Law (the ram, the cpu, the flash) will just keep dropping in price.
    • by harrkev (623093)

      That's right, those components which fall under Moore's Law (the ram, the cpu, the flash) will just keep dropping in price.

      Not really. Once the silicon gets very cheap, you will find that the cost of the packaging (plastic, pins, etc) will become as expensive as the silicon itself, if not more so. Also, you can only shrink the silicon down so far. The die still has to be big enough to put the pads on it. In this case, shrinking the transistors just means more unused silicon area. It will probably be mor

    • That's right, those components which fall under Moore's Law (the ram, the cpu, the flash) will just keep dropping in price.
      Not necessarily - at some point it's no longer worth the fixed costs to manufacture, inventory, and sell, and the product line is simply discontinued and no longer available at any price.
      • by QuantumG (50515) *
        Way to presuppose a profit motive.
        • Who cares about a profit motive - if you can make 512 megs of RAM for $20 and 256 megs costs $25 because of low volume, you'll just stop making the 256 because it's pointless.

  • I would buy one for my son, hes only 10 but, i think it would serve very will for him, its ment to be child like ( anything under 20 ) they would make a good "Computer Toy" for him to play with and have some fun (And cant break as easy as my computers - Damn Spyware...)
  • by cesc (121088) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:22PM (#18031024) Homepage
    I can't believe this guys are so bad at marketing, how can they sell a $130 anything? It's marketing 101 guys: prices must end with 99!

    Poor guys, where so unlucky, who would have thought back then that Bush would sunk the dollar with his toy wars? I'd recommend them to switch their pricing to a solid, stable currency which enables them to express their price in the usual x99 format. For example the Euro. According to Saint Google:

    130 U.S. dollars = 99.3807813 Euros [google.com]
  • by rueger (210566) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:36PM (#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 Gordo_1 (256312) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:50PM (#18031432)
    The same thing we do every night Pinky, build a million OLPC botnet and try to take over the world!
  • Is a brilliant plan and a wonderful product.
    For the "it's better spent on food" argument, please ee this:
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=423735324 4 338529080 [google.com]

    Inform yourselves before commenting, lest you look like fools. The machine is wonderful - it can be restored from ROM, there are servers in schools which back up when they are in range, mesh networking is great. And don't get me started about energy efficiency - there is more innovation in the OLPC machine than the entire IT industry has sh
  • by chris_sawtell (10326) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @08:39PM (#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.

  • Seems to me that America has a greater problem with literacy than some developing nations.

    We're 12th in providing Broadband access, and frankly, New Orleans looks more impoverished than some third world areas. I think the OLPC program is needed here in the USA, where half the schools have kids who can't read or do math and this is part of Bush's No Child Left Behind program. And yet we call ourselves a first world nation, an economic superpower, and the leader of the free world. And yet, in a small village
  • I'd pay 200 dollars for such a laptop for my kids, and I think many others would too.

    I can see great things the open source community can develop for this machine provided we had access to it, even at a higher price.

    They can use the extra money they made to either make more or donate it. Either way, they are donating something to these kids.

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