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OLPC Manufacturer to Sell $200 Laptop On Open Market 214

Posted by Zonk
from the now-we're-getting-somewhere dept.
srinravi writes "ArsTechnica reports that Quanta, the company manufacturing the XO laptops, has plans to begin selling low-cost budget mobile computers for $200 later this year. 'According to Quanta president Michael Wang, the company plans to leverage the underlying technologies associated with OLPC's XO laptop to produce laptop computers that are significantly less expensive than conventional laptops.' While OLPC plans to sell the laptops in bulk to governments, which will then distribute the hardware to school children, the XO computer itself is not for sale on the open market. These XO-like commercial devices are still something of an unknown, but it has been announced they'll be using Open Source software."
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OLPC Manufacturer to Sell $200 Laptop On Open Market

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  • by sethstorm (512897) * on Friday March 30, 2007 @10:32AM (#18543083) Homepage
    For such a device, they sure are wanting to not release it - when that could be a good way to fund such devices. Is there some sort of problem with quality at that kind of mass amount?
    • by siriuskase (679431) on Friday March 30, 2007 @10:41AM (#18543221) Homepage Journal
      Marketing costs, distribution costs, etc.

      While they may have figured out how to market and distribute to the governments that are their primary customers, they may not want to deal with the private market for some reason. Smaller purchase quantities comes to mind. But, you'd think they could hire someone else to market and distribute.

      Like you suggest, it might be that the product wouldn't hold up too well under the scrutiny of knowledgeable customers in a competitive marketplace. The original product is intended for people who know nothing about compuerts and don't know anyone else who knows anything about computers.
      • by suggsjc (726146) on Friday March 30, 2007 @11:48AM (#18544143) Homepage
        Ahh, I've got mod points that I want to use, but I just...can't...stop...typing.

        Anyway, first marketing costs? There are people practically begging to get these devices...and even willing to pay more than the "targeted" cost of ~$100. So, if there was ever a case of a product selling itself, then this is it.

        Distribution costs are understandable. But at the same time, they have been saying that they won't take orders of less than a million (isn't that right?). So, it isn't necessarily a supply problem...that is if they could actually meet those demands. So couple that with the above paragraph and it seems like there would be at least one millionaire out there that would see this enormous opportunity to snap up a million or so of these and resell for a handsome profit.

        All of this makes me casually raise an eyebrow. There are a couple of floating thoughts. First, maybe they feel like this is a *special* project and so only *special* (read: people in 3rd world countries) should get them. Second, (which the parent mentioned) is that maybe they aren't as high quality as us *non-special* (read: spoiled developed nation brats) would demand, and therefore wouldn't even sell in the first place. Third, (my own little thought) is that there are some interesting politics happening behind closed doors.

        To the first, I say "get off your high horse" sell them at a markup and re-invest your profits in something you deem worthwhile.
        To the second, I say "don't knock it till you (or some other schmuck) tries it". There is practically no potential for loss here. If somebody wants to purchase 1 million units, take their money and run...after you give them the laptops that is.
        To the third I say, well actually I have nothing to say since I have no idea is this is the case or what is being said behind those closed doors.

        I hope this project succeeds just as much as the next (excluding Dell, HP, Intel, etc shareholders) person. But let's not count any chickens (or laptops) before they hatch.
        • I've got another theory...

          The OLPC laptops contain a bunch of hardware invented specifically for them, correct?

          Countries have standards bodies like the FCC and others that regulate a LOT about how such devices can perform. My guess is that the OLPC wouldn't pass all these tests. Sell to governments only, and you don't have to worry about this, as the standards bodies are a part of the group doing the purchasing. Selling on the open market is another story.

          The $200 devices probably use standard parts

        • by himself (66589)
          suggsjc wote:
          >
          > There are people practically begging to get these devices...and even willing to pay more than the "targeted" cost of ~$100. So, if
          > there was ever a case of a product selling itself, then this is it.
          >
          "Developers! Developers! Developers!"

          Or, more to the point, "selling itself" to whom? The "home" market will be smaller since the machine probably can't run, say Office XP or World of Warcraft, and people like "us" just aren't a large enoug
      • Support costs (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tverbeek (457094)
        What about support costs? A small number of governments and NGOs are a lot less work to deal with than potentially tens of thousands of consumers.
    • by PIPBoy3000 (619296) on Friday March 30, 2007 @10:42AM (#18543231)
      I think part of the reason the $200 laptop costs $200 is that they're selling them in bulk to governments. It's then up to the government to distribute it appropriately. If you're doing it yourself, you've got to pay for the distribution infrastructure yourself, which gets tacked on to the cost of the $200 laptop. Now, these days with Amazon and Dell, you can do pretty good at minimizing these costs, but it'll still make it more expensive.

      If that ends up bringing the cost of the laptop into the $300-$400 range, you're suddenly competing with the likes of Dell and other low-cost laptop manufacturers.
      • by An Onerous Coward (222037) on Friday March 30, 2007 @11:48AM (#18544151) Homepage
        Why are you calling it "the $200 laptop?" The OLPC project has always had a target of $100/laptop. If you're using the phrase to refer to the OLPC's laptops, you're wrong. If you're using it simply to refer to $200 laptops in general, then you're being tautological. A $200 laptop is a $200 laptop because it's a laptop that is selling for $200.

        Read the article. Or the summary at the very least. The manufacturer tasked with building the laptops for the OLPC project has simply decided that it can use its experience to offer a very similar piece of hardware to the public at a low price. It's not the OLPC laptop, and it's not the much hoped for "buy one for $200 and a kid in Rwanda gets one free" deal that's been suggested. There's no reason to think that these laptops will be sold in bulk to governments.
      • by Adhemar (679794)

        I think part of the reason the $200 laptop costs $200 is that they're selling them in bulk to governments. (...) If that ends up bringing the cost of the laptop into the $300-$400 range, you're suddenly competing with the likes of Dell and other low-cost laptop manufacturers.

        If I read the article correctly, US$200 is the price Quanta is planning to sell this XO-like device for to individuals. (I am wondering if a portion of the price goes directly to the OLPC project. Since the article does not mention it,

      • by nbritton (823086)
        Well even if it's $260 bucks, which comes out to 20% markup + $20 shipping per unit, I'd still be willing to buy lots of them... for embedded tasks. The cheap Dell notebook I could find is $500.
    • by Otter (3800) on Friday March 30, 2007 @10:53AM (#18543365) Journal
      Nothing about this project makes any sense. They won't sell the hardware at a profit to raise funding or create economy of scale. They don't attempt to get the platform into the hands of developers who might be able to develop applications, instead of relying on giving compilers to children who have never seen a computer before. My suspicion is that they simply can't make them at the price/number points they keep claiming, but who knows?

      By the way, if any of the MIT people involved with this project have an explanation, drop a message in one of my JE's and I'll be delighted to walk over and be set straight.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by CastrTroy (595695)
        They do have VMWare images you can run, although this isn't the same, as you wouldn't know how it runs on the actual hardware, I'm sure that it would help out quite a bit with developing applications.
      • by krasni_bor (261801) on Friday March 30, 2007 @11:36AM (#18543983)
        1) OLPC seems to have all the funds they need right now.
        2) If the project works at all they will have huge economies of scale just selling to governments.
        3) It is not difficult to get a development machine, if you get involved and write a little code FIRST (using an emulator, etc.).
        4) Clearly, Quanta thinks they will be able to make them at scale and make even more than OLPC demands, based on this announcement.
    • Maybe they're going to be even uglier than what everyone is thinking they'll be like? I don't see how that's possible; in any case, I'm sure a few will "escape" from wherever they've been deployed to the US. But the lack of access to the device by first-world coders will tend to reduce application availability and ultimate usefulness. Maybe someone could release an emulator?
    • by bfields (66644)

      For such a device, they sure are wanting to not release it - when that could be a good way to fund such devices.

      Maybe, maybe not. I imagine a lot of geeks are in the same boat as me--I listen to the neat stuff they're doing with it, look at the pictures, and say "OMG it's adorable! I MUST HAVE one!" But when it came time to actually plop down my $200 (or whatever) I might take a closer look at the specs, listen to what other users had to say about it, and say: ya know, this doesn't really make sense for

    • For such a device, they sure are wanting to not release it - when that could be a good way to fund such devices. Is there some sort of problem with quality at that kind of mass amount?

      No, the problem is the black market. If you send a few thousand laptops to a poor government, they may choose to sell them rather than give them to children. If the laptop is not on public sale, this will be fairly obvious. However if the laptop is generally available, it will be harder to tell whether the laptop has been bought from government stock or not

    • by burns210 (572621)
      OLPC does not want to sell the XO to the general public for a couple reasons:

      1. 10 million customers takes a lot more work, and a lot more time, than 10 customers (that buying in quanities of >= 1million).
      2. Selling to governments in bulk gets the laptops to a *lot* of kids fast. This is the goal, one laptop per child.
      3. They have *always* said they would have a general consumer version produced (this announcement)
      4. The UPS truck mentality. If the XO is *ONLY* given to children, then whenever you see it
    • by adisakp (705706)
      I actually held one in my hands GDC earlier this month and talked to some people working on it. They're trying to get people to write games for kids on the machine.

      Apparently, the units they have (at least the dev units) are not approved for general manufacture because their radiation emissions. This is pretty common for dev units. Being in the game industry I have to wonder how much radiation I've been exposed to from beta dev kits (especially one that I currently have that weighs about 70 lbs and sou
    • by Rogerborg (306625)
      Why would they need to? They sell a million units at $100 to Elbonia, and Elbonia sells 500,000 of them on to us decadent imperialist pigdogs for $200 a unit. OLPC break even and only have to deal with one customer, Elbonia get their 500,000 units for free, we get it for the same price either way. We seem to be vastly underestimating 3rd world countries' ability to leverage a good deal.
  • by Lumpy (12016) on Friday March 30, 2007 @10:34AM (#18543113) Homepage
    Mine come WITHOUT the hacking locks they have in place. I will want to replace their OS with something that is my own and the current iteration does not allow that.
    • by Maximum Prophet (716608) on Friday March 30, 2007 @10:54AM (#18543389)
      Well, yeah, I imagine, that would make the thing sell much better. A sub $200 laptop would be an excellent process control computer for simple things like temperature control, CNC, weather monitoring, etc. Having a standard, plug and play platform would be very useful. Even single board computers without monitors or power supplies can cost much more than $200.
      • You can get all sorts of old PLC hardware on Ebay for less than $200, for process control applications. I bought an entire Allen Bradley PLC5 setup, processor, a dozen IO cards analog and digital, power supply, chassis, all that, for $40 shipped to my house. Of course, having a copy of Logix 5 makes that viable but there are other controllers out there that work with freely available programming tools.

        Someone industrious enough to cobble their own process control setup probably knows this, but who knows.
      • Screw that. A sub $200 laptop would be excellent. Period. I've bought a 1300 laptop a couple of years ago and and about 90% of the work I do with it is simply text editing, access email, jabber IM and browse the web, stuff that I can do very well with any used sub-100 PC from eBay (which I'm actually using at the moment). On the other hand, you can't even buy a used laptop in working order for less than 250. Not even the sub 800MHz oldies.

        I, for one, would easily pay 200 for a laptop that could handle that
    • by burns210 (572621)
      You would be able to do that with this laptop, and the OLPC laptop. The "hacking locks" they put in place are meant to be disabled by the user if they want. They just want you to be smart enough to realize what you are doing when you say "no thanks, I'll take care of security myself."

      I imagine many version of the OS will come up and this will be perfectly easy to do, even as a child receiving this machine. Choice, of course, is a good thing. There is a project to put Minix 3 on it, and Plan9 had a Google Su
  • Should sell well (Score:5, Informative)

    by Maximum Prophet (716608) on Friday March 30, 2007 @10:35AM (#18543149)
    People still use and support the Tandy Model 100 http://www.club100.org/ [club100.org]. AFAIR, it cost more than $200 when it was new, adjusting for inflation.
    • Re:Should sell well (Score:4, Informative)

      by Lumpy (12016) on Friday March 30, 2007 @10:36AM (#18543161) Homepage
      In fact Tandy 100 and 102's still go for a premium. I recently sold both my 102's for well over $100.00 each. way more than I expected.
      • My friend in college in the early 80's had a 100. He used it for taking notes in class. I still covet that machine. Does anyone nowadays make a small computer with a decent sized keyboard and without a big flippy screen? It seems you can get a small screen with a small keyboard (PDA, smartphone) or a big keyboard with a big screen, laptop, but if you want to only glance occassionaly at a few lines of notes as you are touchtyping them, you gotta use a PDA with some sort of addon keyboard.
        • I use a pocket pc with a fold out IR keyboard for this. Works well for the few classes in which I can type notes. Sadly its pretty useless for math classes.
        • That, and just about all laptops nowdays have the trackpad between your hands and the keys. I don't like it, but a friend of mine absolutely detests it, but recently was completely unable to buy any brand of high end laptop with the keyboard near the bottom edge.
          • by PitaBred (632671)
            Many laptops have a disabling button you can use, or you can just disable the device completely (don't load the drivers). Did that stop your friend from buying a machine?
            • It's not the trackpad per se, it's the extra distance. Look at a real keyboard. The keys start about 2cm from the edge. That's the way laptops used to be. Now, all the machines with decent specs, have these trackpads and extra distance. But you're right, he could glue a piece of wood or plastic that was just the right thickness over the trackpad to make it go away. (and disable it in software)

              Still modern laptop keyboard are compromises. The beauty of the Model 100 keyboard was that it had full siz
        • Re:Should sell well (Score:4, Interesting)

          by OECD (639690) on Friday March 30, 2007 @11:21AM (#18543781) Journal

          Does anyone nowadays make a small computer with a decent sized keyboard and without a big flippy screen?

          Take a look at AlphaSmart's portable computers [alphasmart.com]. The Neo goes for $250 and is roughly equivalent to a Model 100.

    • Wow, that's interesting news. I picked one up at a garage sale a few years back for $1. I plugged it in once to a TV, wrote some funky BASIC code to print my name all over the screen and haven't taken it out of the box since.

      Maybe I should revisit.

      In any case, I would actually LOVE one of these OLPC machines for my kids. They're always playing on my laptop: http://www.perfectreign.com/?q=node/51

    • by linhux (104645)
      Ah! You finally gave me a reason to dig that old toy out from the closet of abandoned gadgets. My grandfather, who was a journalist, used it in the 80's, and since I was the family computer geek, I hung on to it when he passed away. In 4th and 5th grade I could nerd away coding games in BASIC during the lunch breaks. Since then, once every five years or so, I've plugged it in and booted it up just to see if it works. And this time, too, it booted! It runs on 6 AA batteries for quite a while, as far as I rec
  • Yes I understand only goat farmers in Kenya are entitled to cheap usable hardware whereas poor people in the US are not. Moreover, middle class people in the US should be grateful at having to spend $2000 for a VistaBloat machine because, well that's the White Man's Burden.

    What I don't understand is how they think this is going to get manufacturing efficiencies in volume working for them? I mean, couldn't they swallow their liberal guilt a little bit and at least charge Bwana $300? I think we'd be willing t
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lumpy (12016)
      Moreover, middle class people in the US should be grateful at having to spend $2000 for a VistaBloat machine because, well that's the White Man's Burden.

      if you spend that much on a windows laptop then you sir are a foaming at the mouth moron. I bought a vista machine (and erased the OS as soon as I got it) for $699 this is a Dual core speed demon that plays doom3 nicely. I got it from a secret online store..... Dell.com

      • by jabuzz (182671)
        That is still $500 more expensive that a $200 computer. My four and half year old neice does not need to play Doom 3, but a $200 style XO machine would be fanstastic for her, especially in pink. Also the battery life on a XO is much better than on your Dell. Twelve years ago I spend nearly $5000 for a Pentium 75 laptop with 16MB of RAM, 810MB of harddisk and a 640x480 screen. An XO has a 433MHz processor 256MB of RAM, 1GB of flash instead of a hard disk, wireless networking and a 800x600 screen. I'll have o
        • by Xtravar (725372)
          Buy a used laptop. It may not have the best battery life, but you'll get roughly what you want.
    • by jamiethehutt (572315) on Friday March 30, 2007 @11:07AM (#18543595)
      Otherwise I guess we can go out and buy a bunch of old used laptops for $200-400 each and put Ubuntu on them and tell OLPC to got jump in the lake.

      I want a OLPC. An old laptop will not be as compact, will not be as robust, will not have as much battery life, will not have a nippy solid state disk and will not have nearly as good a screen for reading on. The old laptop probably wont have wireless and probably wont have excellent linux support, in fact it's likely to have some compatibility problems. Also I think the OLPC, or at least the green one, looks pretty funky...

      It's a pretty clear choice for me.
      • by Ant P. (974313)
        You brought up a good point there.

        The GP can go buy anything he wants instead of an OLPC, but in the end all he's got is a bland generic x86 PC/laptop. This is the first time I've ever seen any attempt at major innovation in a PC.
        It's a shame really... if other companies put this much effort into trying something original, the world probably wouldn't still be stuck using a UI from 14 years ago.
    • by morgan_greywolf (835522) * on Friday March 30, 2007 @11:09AM (#18543627) Homepage Journal
      The difference here is that the poor people in the U.S. (defined as any household below the official poverty line (~$25K/year)) are rich and highly-educated compared to the poor goat farmers in Kenya.
      • by Acer500 (846698)
        I think it's been said a thousand times already, but I'll say it a thousand and one times: The target for the OLPC is not "the goat farmer in Kenya".

        It's a middle ground, like the average child in my country (Uruguay) whose family makes U$ 4.000/year, we have a 99% literacy rate (better than the US) and 500.000 Internet users out of 3.000.000 inhabitants, but most of those have to go to cyber-cafés for computer usage (which charge 50c/hour, and are very popular among children and teenagers).

        Uruguay
        • Again, 4,000/year is still wayyy poor compared to the average poor family in the U.S., which makes about $15,000-$20,000. that's what I'm saying.
    • by mnmn (145599)
      They're not called goat farmers, they're called Shepherds.
    • by AlHunt (982887)
      >in the US where we don't have to worry about electricity and whatnot.

      I'm not so sure. Frankly, this has been on my mind lately. The power grid has already shown it's fragility. The US congress has become the poster child for "America is unwilling to see a fight through to the end". Every time I see Murtha tearing up in the well of the House or Pelosi doing her Cartman ("Respect my authoriti!") imitation, I can just imagine another attack on US soil. And this one making 9-11 seem like a bad hair day
  • Sans kill switch? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by OglinTatas (710589) on Friday March 30, 2007 @10:47AM (#18543303)
    I would certainly be interested, if I knew that it did not include a kill switch which would allow my government or anyone to destroy it on a whim. linky [slashdot.org]
  • I hope they do it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by arivanov (12034) on Friday March 30, 2007 @10:50AM (#18543333) Homepage
    I know at least several cases where people working on medical diagnostics projects have tried to get their hand on the OLPC kit for the purposes of field medical lab automation and have been told to sod off.

    There is a long list of diagnostic technologies which require a computer for analysing data in the field. At the moment this means using either a specialised system or a commercial ruggedized portable. In either case the overall bill for a small field lab goes into the many 1000$ range which makes this technology prohibitive for mass deployment. OLPC class hardware would have been the perfect replacement bringing the cost down into a range which will make it affordable.

    So if the OLPC gets sidelined and the same kit is available commercially, personally I would give one big cheer. This will mean that people like Medicines sans Frontiers will finally be able to have proper diagnostic (and medical records) kit anywhere they go, no matter how in the middle of nowhere it is.
  • Distribution Control (Score:5, Interesting)

    by petermmcc (575106) on Friday March 30, 2007 @10:59AM (#18543477)
    Am I the only who keeps tabs on this project who worries that the OLPC OX laptops are going to end up in the hands of people who want them as toys or cheap low-cost laptops? Call me cynical but selling these things to governments in Third World countries and expecting the distribution to be done in an honest and ethical way so that every single one ends up in the hands of a deserving child seems hopelessly naive to me. What safeguards are in place to prevent some corrupt government bureaucrat from doling them out to political cronies, black marketeers or any other undeserving party (for financial gain or not) and then just claiming that they have turned up missing or that they never got them and that they need more?

    It makes sense to me to sell them outright to the general public but make them pay a fair market price to fund the distribution system so that real controls are in place to make sure that these things aren't sold in flea markets or used for nefarious purposes. I mean the intentions of OLPC are very honorable from an idealistic viewpoint- I'm just very worried that these things in the real world are just going to be too valuable to get passed down to the distribution chain to their intended recipients. We're sending what are essentially consumer electronic toys in to the heart of the poorest places on the planet and expecting that the people in control of these regions won't try to scheme and maneuver this project for personal financial or political gain. To prevent that real controls need to be in place and those controls can only be provided with a distribution system that is well funded. The funding should come from the people who want to buy these things as personal toys with the added benefit that there then will be less incentive for these things to end up on the black market.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Mod parent up. He's absolutely right.

      Allowing these to be sold by Amazon for $200, will disincentivize governments from buying them for $100 and trying to sell in bulk at a profit. If you know you can get a clean machine for $200 are you going to pay $100 + $n for a "dirty" machine? (where $n is large enough to make it worth their hassle)
      • by PitaBred (632671)
        $200? I've invested more than that in my DS. You bet I would, to know it's clean. $50 is easily approaching the size of marginal returns of having to deal with "dirty" hardware, especially when it has a disabling daemon on it.
      • by Panaflex (13191) *
        Selling them commercially will have little effect here. There's already demand for low cost machines - without the XO on the market. If anything, having a commercial version available will put downward pressure on illegal reselling of the machines - because those that can afford to buy them legally will probably do so.

    • First defense: The governments in question are buying the machines, not receiving them as gifts. They're putting some real money into the hardware, and that gives them some incentive to make sure they don't fall off the back of a truck.

      Second defense: They look, smell, and taste like toys for children. Everyone will know that a business exec using an OLPC as his primary laptop did not come by it honorably.

      Third defense: It's not exactly high-powered hardware. The OS is weird and the applications are w
      • by jabuzz (182671)
        That's fine there is a massive market for these devices for kids in rich first world countries. In fact the only reason I want one is so that I can give one to my nice/godaughter for a present. She's four and half and very intrested in computers. This is the idea gift for her (specially if they do a pink model.
    • expecting the distribution to be done in an honest and ethical way so that every single one ends up in the hands of a deserving child seems hopelessly naive to me.

      So then you should conclude that they're actually not that naive. The question is not what you ask, but instead "Given that there will be massive fraud, waste, and corruption, is it worth doing anyway?" and their answer is "yes". Of course, OLPC can't actually *say* that, because their customers are the governments who will commit the fraud, wa

    • by Acer500 (846698) on Friday March 30, 2007 @01:22PM (#18545675) Journal

      Am I the only who keeps tabs on this project who worries that the OLPC OX laptops are going to end up in the hands of people who want them as toys or cheap low-cost laptops? Call me cynical but selling these things to governments in Third World countries and expecting the distribution to be done in an honest and ethical way so that every single one ends up in the hands of a deserving child seems hopelessly naive to me.

      I live in Uruguay, one of the early adopters of the OLPC program. I know it's tough to believe, but although our governments are corrupt and inefficient, we do have a somewhat working democracy, and this is one of the "hot" issues where the opposition (and people like myself) will be keeping close tabs on the government, which will probably ensure honest distribution.

      Believe me, the opposition would like nothing better than a scandal involving this (it would slur the current governing party, which is a frontrunner for the next elections, plus it involves stealing from children so it would be doubly harmful), while the current government would tout it as a huge archievement and will use it as PR whenever it can ("we delivered a computer to every child in the country!!!").

      What safeguards are in place to prevent some corrupt government bureaucrat from doling them out to political cronies, black marketeers or any other undeserving party (for financial gain or not) and then just claiming that they have turned up missing or that they never got them and that they need more?

      Besides the political issue, there's also a mostly free press in Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil. Here we have an investigative TV show which likes to air cases like government officials using public cars, offices, etc. for private use, bribery, etc. and there are similar ones in Argentina and probably Brazil. It would be a huge coup (and ratings boost) to uncover such a case.

      I have more faith in our public institutions and our press than I currently have for US press and institutions (see: US elections).
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Friday March 30, 2007 @10:59AM (#18543485) Journal
    The price of a basic PC, with just enough power to do browsing, email, a little bit of photoshop and screen shows and minor word processing has come under 200$ at bulk price. It is not inconceivable that some DSL/broadband company would not give it away for a two year broadband contract. Google has bought so much of capactity in the dark fibers, that it can become a viable broadband provider and give away PCs for free. And Google is also gaining valuable experience running metro area size WiFi network in Cupertino. Further Google has to negate the fundamental advantage MSFT has, that is ever changing standards, comaptibility issues.

    Roll it all into one, you should expect GooglePC/BroadBand (beta ofcourse) sometime soon. If the hardward price drops far enough it can even sustain itself giving away the hardware and live on advertisements alone!

    • by Brunellus (875635)
      Other vendors tried this during the First Great Internet Bubble. Where are they now?
  • by rlp (11898)
    I don't understand why they are not trying to market this for the educational market in developed countries. At $200 it would make sense for mass distribution to secondary school students in developed countries. With an office suite (OpenOffice) and a browser, it would fit most of the needs of secondary school students. Add an IDE (Eclipse) and it could be used in introductory programming classes. Instead of a computer lab, students could bring it to class, for note-taking, or to read documents or view
    • Add an IDE (Eclipse) and it could be used in introductory programming classes.

      My copy of Eclipse is currently running at 267MB. The install directory is over 1 GB. There's no way that's happening. Also, there's no way that will look okay on the tiny screens they've got on these things.

      This is NOT a computer in the traditional sense. It's a PDA in a different form factor.
    • I'm having a hard time imagining these laptops running OpenOffice. Eclipse? Simply no way. Nano seems user-friendly enough.
  • by supersnail (106701) on Friday March 30, 2007 @11:17AM (#18543725)
    1. Make nice little $200 Laptop.
    2. Announce to Geeks around the world "You cant have one".
    3. Give Laptop to poor child.
    4. Poor child puts laptop on e-bay.
    5. Geeks gets kool laptop.
    6. Child no longer poor.
  • Hmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anon-Admin (443764) on Friday March 30, 2007 @11:19AM (#18543761) Homepage Journal
    I have watched the OLPC for some time. As time goes by, It seems like less of a deal. I just picked up a nice Compaq with a 15" wide screen, 512 meg of memory, 802.11 card etc. At Best Buy it was $350. By the time they get the OLPC out the door, normal low end laptops will be in the $200 range.
    • by hey! (33014)
      The "one laptop per child" is just the "elevator pitch" for the project. In case you don't know what an elevator pitch is, it is how you describe your project/product to somebody with money and limited attention span who you bump into in an elevator. Your mission is to convince him you are worth a good look before the door opens.

      Moore's law will bring conventional laptops into spitting distance of the financial parameters needed for OLPC, but not necessarily in terms of the device's operational characteri
    • First, the $200 laptop of the article is not the OLPC laptop. It's a separate laptop that will be sold by Quanta, and based on the OLPC's design. The OLPC laptop is currently being sold to governments for $150, and that price will continue to drop as hardware gets cheaper.

      Second, it doesn't matter much if you can get the sort of hardware that suits your needs for the same price, because OLPC laptops are trying to solve a different problem. Normal low-end laptops are bigger, less rugged, have more moving
    • by adisakp (705706)
      Yes normal laptops are getting cheaper -- but normal laptops can't operate in an area without electrical power. And they're certainly not kid-proofed against spilling on the keyboard, protected by a heavy clamshell against dropping or breaking, environmentally sealed to work in desert/dusty conditions, etc. By the time you're looking at a hardened laptop for rough environments, you're going to pay $3,000 or more.
  • i have been shopping for a new laptop since my wife is in grad school, which means that my current laptop is also in grad school. buying the current one was a sort of existential hardship... paying $600 for something that is too underpowered to play games on. perhaps a small device with a comparatively small pricetag and with a keyboard big enough to take notes and things on might be just what the doctor ordered.

  • and has plans to make their own low cost laptop.

    Many techno-savvy people have also criticized the laptop and Nelson Mandela demonstrated it to the UN and the crank handle broke off in his hand.

    I heard it is very poor quality.
    • I heard it is very poor quality.

      .... and I heard that you're pretty stupid.

      But perhaps neither of us should repeat heresay? I have one; it's very well made. Anyway, it was Koffi Annan who broke the crank, not Nelson Mandela. The crank was a bad idea anyway since children can't generate enough power with their hands. That's why kids' bikes have footbrakes, not handbrakes. So the human power supply will probably be more like a yo-yo. You could just pull on the string, or tie it to a board and use your

  • Keep your eye open and you can find two year old models (512MB, 80GB) laptops in the $400 range. Will run 3rd party software.
  • by capseed (1002778) on Friday March 30, 2007 @11:50AM (#18544187)
    Note that Quanta's mobile laptop, even if the underlying hardware and most of the software are the same, is NOT the OLPC machine. AFAIK OLPC has always wanted their project to exist outside of commercial markets. One of the main reasons for this was to help prevent a black market trade in these machines. If you have an XO, and you are not a child registered to use it, it will be very obvious that it is stolen.

    As far as the governments taking the laptops and doing something evil or keeping them from their intended users, does anybody know how far OLPC is going to step in with the education and support issues? Negroponte has said many many many times that OLPC is not a hardware project, it is an education project based on decades of research with children and computers. It would seem odd if they didn't send their own people out in the field to provide support and guidance to the teachers and students who get to experience the XO. I would love to be one of them!

    Summary:
    Quanta != OLPC
    OLPC != hardware project

    • If you have an XO, and you are not a child registered to use it, it will be very obvious that it is stolen.

      Excellent point, but many years ago, my dad had some ham radio equipment stolen from his car when it was parked in our driveway. About a year after that, the stuff was found because it was tossed in the bushes. Once the theives got the stuff under the street lights, they realized that it wasn't CB, and thus was usless to them. My point is that people steal stuff all the time that they can't use, t

    • by jabuzz (182671)
      It's back to Economics 101 for Negroponte then. If there is no legitimate market then a black market *will* appear to fill the void. It is as simple as that.
  • Simputer (Score:3, Interesting)

    by vivek7006 (585218) on Friday March 30, 2007 @12:32PM (#18544897) Homepage
    Remember Simputer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simputer/ [wikipedia.org] ?

    By the time it was released, it was overpriced and underwhelming. I wont be surprised is this device meets the same fate.
  • by HangingChad (677530) on Friday March 30, 2007 @12:46PM (#18545113) Homepage

    I'd pay $250.00 for one and they could take that extra $50.00 and use it to subsidize the cost of sending them to really poor countries and villages.

    Why are they so fricking insistent on not selling them retail? I'd pay a lot to be able to whip out a bright green laptop and hand-crank it in the middle of a meeting. Don't mind me, please have your sales droid prattle on incessantly as if I weren't even here.

  • Two other machines vying for the low-end space include:

    Intel Classmate PC [linuxdevices.com]

    Data Evolution Holdings' Personal Internet Communicator [linuxdevices.com]

APL is a write-only language. I can write programs in APL, but I can't read any of them. -- Roy Keir

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