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Negroponte Offers OLPC Technology For India's $35 Tablet 104

Posted by timothy
from the so-happy-togeeeether dept.
angry tapir writes "One Laptop Per Child wants to join forces to help develop the Indian government's planned $35 tablet. In a congratulatory note to the government, OLPC Chairman Nicholas Negroponte said the world needs the $35 tablet, and he offered the country full access to OLPC hardware and software technology."
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Negroponte Offers OLPC Technology For India's $35 Tablet

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  • by KingAlanI (1270538) on Monday August 02, 2010 @04:09AM (#33108092) Homepage Journal

    It seems obvious how this might point the Indian project in the right direction, but will OLPC be able to learn anything form involvement in the ultracheap Indian effort?

    Joint ventures FTW!

  • by kyz (225372) on Monday August 02, 2010 @04:11AM (#33108104) Homepage

    India is trolling - it can announce $35 tablets, even $0.00 tablets, but it sure as hell can't make any for that price. The components alone cost more than $35 [fastcompany.com], and that's when China makes them with slaves paid less than India will pay.

    Negroponte has been there, knows the truth, and knows that India is just there to swindle international news media to get attention for its own country. He's going to co-opt that attention for his own project. Good on him.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 02, 2010 @04:15AM (#33108126)

    The OLPC principles are flawed.

    Before netbooks existed, I always said I'd buy one, or a few, just for a laugh.
    Then they come up with DRM to block a hypothetical second hand market, and that give 1 get 1 nonsense.
    Personally I think they should stay the hell away from the $35 tablet, least they pollute it with their retarded principles.

    And put them on amazon with super saver shipping. I'll buy 10!

  • by Serious Callers Only (1022605) on Monday August 02, 2010 @04:25AM (#33108154)

    It seems obvious how this might point the Indian project in the right direction,

    What could India possibly learn from the rudderless OLPC project? They've lost their core software team, sold out to Intel then lost their support by foolishly trying to monopolise the low-end, sold out to Microsoft and then have been undermined by the MS drive for Windows netbooks, refused to deal with small deployments, *and* come nowhere close to their target price. About the only thing that has survived that project from inception is the glorious leader Negroponte. His promise today is worthless. The only thing they could learn from Negroponte is what not to do; over-promise and under-deliver, but unfortunately, given their silly promise of a $35 touchscreen tablet which they haven't got the tech for, it seems that boat has already sailed.

    What India should be doing with this is creating a smart machine for $35, without a touchscreen (impossible to get a good one at that price), possibly with something like a trackpad, but the input method doesn't matter - make it a good ereader and mandate that it is used by all schools looking to buy tech for education.

    That would give them the customer base to create a truly mass-market device, and the groundswell of interest and enthusiasm from bright young Indians to make it a success, and allow them to commission software for it that would really make a difference to education in a country which is dependent on it for its future. English is already the primary medium of instruction, and there are huge numbers of existing free texts in English which would make such a device incredibly useful to students everywhere, not just in India. Even just a web browsing device this cheap with a larger screen than a phone would be a breakthrough for many students.

  • by naz404 (1282810) on Monday August 02, 2010 @04:59AM (#33108256) Homepage
    This actually fantastic. The developer base left at OLPC is shockingly small and if they join forces with the India effort, they can really do a big impact with low-cost, energy efficient computing.

    I really hate how the hardware world has gone into faster, faster, more, more when it should be working on cheaper and more energy-efficient. I'd rather that Moore's law went into making chips at current speeds cheaper than constantly expensive chips at faster speeds. Instead, what they do is phase out slow-cpu tech and keep selling power-hungry speed demons

    On a related note, having an OLPC XO-1 unit in my hands, having gone through the internet on a Pentium 1 back in the 90s, I really hate the present AJAXification of the entire web - it's no longer possible to fully surf websites on a 400MHz machine like the XO-1 without having to turn off Javascript and Flash.

    Javascript programmers are doing the very same thing that gave Flash a bad name years ago: Bloat.
  • by Serious Callers Only (1022605) on Monday August 02, 2010 @05:58AM (#33108422)

    There's been a lot of hate thrown towards OLPC ever since the Windows thing, but really, everything they do is open source over there and nothing really came out of that Windows thing except negative public backlash.

    Which is exactly why they should not have bowed to ms demands in the first place. Ms and intel were never serious but tecognised that co-opting is a great way to kill a project like this. Olpc is already sleepwalking to failure, as evidenced by the size of its dev crew and real world deployments. It died because they were too busy grandstanding and announcing vapourware and partnerships to make something cheap, useful and ubiquitous. Android is already further along than olpc will ever be, and partnering with negroponte would be the kiss of death for any Indian project. Why do they need negroponte when great software is available for free and they have a huge supply of programmers?

    A touchscreen device for $35 would be great, but it is not close to reality- the Indian government, who have the money and manpower to really make a difference (unlike olpc), should take that lesson to heart and change the world rather than waste time promising the impossible. They can make it cheap and ubiquitous and truly useful (though limited) or expensive and full-featured and end up competing with all the commercial solutions out there and constantly sabotaged and undermined by companies like ms and intel. I know which I would choose.

  • Manufacturing? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 02, 2010 @06:05AM (#33108440)

    Does India have any tech manufacturing base? No troll - sincere question.

    I know they've got keen engineering students who want that base to develop so they can work in it, but I can't think of any factories. Everything's in China, isn't it? In which case this is a pipe-dream promotion by the prof. It'll get friendly words from various Goverment officials trying to sound like they want to do things for education and manufacturing, but it won't get funding like the Space program does. (Space programs are relatively easy to fund -- national vanity projects aren't judged by meeting commodity pricing.)

    Which leaves the remaining indian tech I can think of, which tend to be licensed military contracts that suffer bad cost-overruns and delays. The Tata's isn't a good example because its only innovation is stripped-out performance and safety requirements. It's a fine and useful thing, but it's not an example of technical industry any more than the Trabant was. You can apply the same principle of Vicious Compromise to digital school tablet, but that won't deliver something cheaper than its Chinese parts.

  • by oiron (697563) on Monday August 02, 2010 @06:51AM (#33108642) Homepage

    *ahem* The Nano would be a Tata product, and Tata is a private company. It's like blaming Obama for the iPhone's antenna...

    And the point of the $35 device is not making money. It's a given that it'll lose money, since it's subsidized. The idea is to use it for education, and the government is willing to spend on that.

    Now, whether it'll actually be useful or not is a different question entirely.

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday August 02, 2010 @07:16AM (#33108738) Journal

    I think you're missing the point of OLPC - it's not so affluent people can buy lots of cheap computers, it's to offer access to the less privileged in the world.

    Right. And the way to do it that stays is to flood all markets with cheap computers, driving prices down, so that the less privileged in the world can afford to buy one. A successful example of that is the adoption rate of cellphones in Africa.

    As for the efficiency of all-planned and overprotective approach... how well is OLPC doing today, again?..

  • by jonbryce (703250) on Monday August 02, 2010 @07:41AM (#33108908) Homepage

    Yes, but allowing more affluent people to buy them as toys doesn't stop the poor people getting them, it helps them as they enjoy greater economies of scale, and more units to spread their fixed costs over.

  • by WillAdams (45638) on Monday August 02, 2010 @07:50AM (#33108952) Homepage

    2001:
    ``A group of Indian scientists and engineers has developed a handheld computer to help the poor and illiterate join the information age.''
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/1442000.stm [bbc.co.uk]

    2010:
    ``Both licensees may seem to have stopped actively marketing their Simputer devices''
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simputer [wikipedia.org]

  • Re:Oh well (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Locutus (9039) on Monday August 02, 2010 @10:49AM (#33111120)
    no, the $100 laptop ended up costing $180 but simpletons like to round up to $800. And if you really wanted to use that "logic" then the joke would be, The $35 tablet will end up costing $100.

    FYI, the OLPC jokes are sore spots for many because of how Microsoft and Intel came in and destroyed the customer base for the project with false claims of better products which never existed. It took over a year for the great software company called Microsoft to get Windows XP booting on the XO. But that's about all it could do unless the OLPC doubled the RAM and doubled the CPU. You know, like how the original EeePC hardware ended up all jacked up along with the price after Microsoft paid ASUS those nice marketing kick backs to use Windows XP instead of Linux/OSS.

    $35 for a tablet is pretty outrageously cheap and very unlikely. Even a $100 tablet sounds too cheap except when you think of how many millions India could build and distribute. Just like how the original OLPC/$100 laptop project was stated as such with minimum order size of a million units and at least a few countries willing to sign up. Isn't the Kindle now priced at $139? It's all about scale but watch out, because when you talk this kind of scale, Microsoft will come in and want to destroy it unless it's using Windows.

    Maybe India is just looking for another tens or hundreds of millions from Microsoft to not doing a cheap Linux based device. Isn't this what happened in Thailand a decade or so ago. I remember HP sold out of those cheap laptops and the Thai government stated to sign up Dell to help cover the demand. Then came Microsoft with some kind of deal and the laptops ended up costing more and got Windows instead of Linux. Too bad US school systems to use this tactic since so many are in dire need of cash these days.

    LoB
  • by naz404 (1282810) on Monday August 02, 2010 @11:21AM (#33111572) Homepage
    Price.

    The price of netbooks has significantly gone up, with the older, cheaper models being phased out, leaving only the more expensive new units on the shelves. The price of most netbooks now equal those of lower-tier cheaper "real laptops" (ordinary large ones) that have more horsepower.

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