The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program will begin selling its XO laptop via Amazon this year in a reprise of its Give One Get One (G1G1) program, according to Ars Technica and several other outlets. Although the Ars piece paints this a real boon for OLPC, whose G1G1 program last year saw distribution problems of comic proportions, I have to ask, who cares?
Dell’s new Inspiron Mini can be had for $349 and, while it lacks some of the cool features of the XO, blows the XO away in terms of performance. Sure, my $399 to Amazon gives a child in a developing country a laptop, but a donation of the $50 I save to Doctors Without Borders or Action Against Hunger would get children a heck of a lot of food and medicine.
Is the ebook reader in the XO really cool and innovative? Yes, of course it is. Is mesh networking a good idea (at least in theory) for helping kids collaborate? Definitely. Is the XO really durable? Yessireebob (but good luck getting replacement parts or warranty service if it does break). But what does the average consumer want? A cheap, durable netbook that they (or their kids) can toss in a backpack and use to get online anywhere there’s WiFi.
Quite franklyThe One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) organisation has signed a deal with Amazon to sell its low cost laptops.
The online retailer will help with its next Give 1 Get 1 (G1G1) programme that is due to begin in late November.
Under this scheme people can buy one of the XO laptops for themselves and donate the other to a school child in a developing nation.
It is hoped the deal with Amazon will iron out the problems OLPC encountered when it ran the G1G1 programme itself.
Dreamed up by MIT Professor Nicholas Negroponte, the OLPC was set up to create and build a powerful laptop for school children in developing nations that sold in the millions and cost less than $100 (£56).
The resulting XO laptop sports distinctive green and white livery, has wi-fi built in, can be powered by a pull cord, and comes loaded with educational software.
Many nations have expressed an interest in using the XO but relatively few started big projects that gave the machine to students and school children.
In a bid to boost the take-up of the XO laptop, the OLPC started the G1G1 programme in November 2007 that let US residents buy two of the machines for $398.
While many people expressed interest in participating the OLPC group hit problems in getting XO machines to customers. Production delays and delivery glitches led to many people cancelling orders while OLPC sorted out the problems.
The new round of the G1G1 programme is due to start in late November and run until the end of 2008. It will only be open to US residents.
At the same time the OLPC group said it planned to launch the second generation of its laptop in 2010.
The XO-2 does away with a keyboard in favour of two touch screens one of which can be converted to a touch type screen.
OLPC hopes that the new version will also get closer to its long-stated ideal of producing a computer that costs less than $100.
The current versions of the XO laptop cost about $200 but the new generation is expected to be available for about $80.