Dramatically Scaled-Back OLPC Begins Production

from the soft-bigotry-of-low-expectations dept

The One-Laptop-per-Child project, which the press is still referring to as the "$100 laptop" despite the fact that it now costs twice that, finally began rolling off the assembly line this week. What's most striking about the effort is how dramatically Nicholas Negroponte has had to scale back his formerly lofty ambitions to get the project off the ground. He initially said that they'd need 3 million orders before they started production. Those orders never materialized, so now they're starting production with only one order, from Uruguay, for just 100,000 laptops. And frankly, if I were Negroponte, I wouldn't count on that order until the money was in the bank, as countries have backed out of commitments in the past. And they've already reversed their previously strong stance against allowing Westerners to buy laptops for their own use. Negroponte has also changed his tune on his relationship with Microsoft. A year ago he crowed that "if I am annoying Microsoft and Intel then I figure I am doing something right." He also opined that "About 25 percent of the cost of a (Windows) laptop is there just to support XP, which is like a person that has gotten so fat that they use most of their muscle to move their fat." Now, however, he's touting his Microsoft ties, stating that "Microsoft has always been working on Windows for the XO. We put the SD (secure digital) slot into our laptop over one year ago, for them." He didn't elaborate on whether the SD slot was needed because of XP's feature bloat. The OLPC project may yet help a lot of poor children, but so far its record has been pretty underwhelming.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    identicon
    Gunnar, Nov 9th, 2007 @ 9:32am

    When we ran a story about OLPC in my paper, I changed all $100 Dollar Laptop references to One Laptop Per Child.

    What's funny is that the $180 price quote was in the story.

     

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  2.  
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    TheDock22, Nov 9th, 2007 @ 9:50am

    For as big a waste of money OLPC is...

    I sure hope it works out for them.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    mac84, Nov 9th, 2007 @ 10:53am

    I'm shocked

    I was certain by now there would be at least 100 million of these things in kid's hands, and that the underprivleged children of the world would be using their ad-hoc grid networks and hand cranks to solve the human genome on their $100 laptops. What went wrong?

     

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  4.  

    Helping our children of poverty

    We have many of our own children from the U.S. that would benefit from this program if it ever gets going. I'm relieved to hear that they would become some of the recipients of this program.

    I also agree that orders better be backed up with some real money instead of just a promise to purchase from some of these countries. So much corruption in so many third world countries makes this an even greater challenge.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 9th, 2007 @ 12:27pm

    Isn't it hypocritical for techdirt to be so negative about someone trying to do something different for a big idea - and sticking to it even though the original numbers didn't pan out so that they eventually do go into production with an actual product.
    I'm getting bored with the number of Masnick stories that whinge about new stuff that might disrupt his view of the world.

     

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  6.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), Nov 9th, 2007 @ 12:48pm

    Re:

    This isn't a Masnick article. I wonder how much money was spent developing this for children who are starving. Hopefully the encasement is strong enough to crack nuts or clams or something.

     

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  7.  
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    Anarchy_Creator, Nov 9th, 2007 @ 7:16pm

    Re: I'm shocked

    Mi¢ro$oft realized that all those millions of children were going to be getting, and using a free laptop that was running *nix their rival OS.
    Imagine that.
    A whole generation of children growing up not knowing about windows viruses, trojans, and solitaire.
    It would most likely destroy Windoez' future consumer base completely.
    Naturally they did the only thing they could think of to save their future asses.
    The only question is what was it?
    Bribes?
    Blackmail?
    Sabotage?
    Oh what this could have been...
    :tear:

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2007 @ 3:24am

    Negroponte said that Windows on XO "has not only been happening with our consent, but (also our) collaboration."

    Well, that certainly explains a lot.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2007 @ 3:39am

    Re:

    Isn't it hypocritical for techdirt to be so negative about someone trying to do something different for a big idea - and sticking to it...
    Maybe you should to look up the definitions of big words like "hypocritical" before you use them.

    ...even though the original numbers didn't pan out so that they eventually do go into production with an actual product.
    If they didn't do what they said they were going to do then in my mind they failed. Techdirt is an analysis site and part of analysis often includes identifying failures.

    I'm getting bored with the number of Masnick stories that whinge about new stuff that might disrupt his view of the world.
    If that's the way you see it then maybe you'll go away.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Morgan, Nov 11th, 2007 @ 9:02pm

    It's not just the numbers either

    It's not just that the cost has doubled, and the timeline has slid, and the orders have evaporated. It is all of that, and also that the machine is not even close to the original claims.

    There is no hand crank. There is not human-powered anything on it. Look at the specs here: http://laptop.org/laptop/hardware/specs.shtml It's just not the machine they originally claimed they were making. In an industry where hardware gets cheaper all the time, they're late, they're under-spec, and they're over price. That is purest failure.

    And that is also a great blessing. The fewer 'sold' to third-worlders by selling to their governments and ending around actual individual demand. The fewer machines poor people are forced to pay for without their consent the better.

    Still, the worst part is the collective BJ people want to give Negroponte over this giant cluster mess. A total failure and reversal on goals, but no loss of stature amongst the non-thinking fans of his non-thinking all-feeling ideals.

    I hope the ones they do sell can at least be used as a light bulb, because they certainly can't filter water.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2007 @ 11:00pm

    Re: It's not just the numbers either

    The fewer 'sold' to third-worlders by selling to their governments and ending around actual individual demand. The fewer machines poor people are forced to pay for without their consent the better.
    That's a good point and one I hadn't really considered very much before.

    Now that Negroponte has revealed that they've been working with M$ all along (even making special design modifications for M$) I'm starting to think that their current OS is really just a placeholder until Windows is ready at which point they'll jump on the Windows bandwagon with both feet. Of course they'll claim it's because that is what the governments they're selling the things to want (without revealing all the M$ bribes that went to the officials of said governments). Never mind what the people themselves want, they're not the ones signing the checks. This whole thing is starting to smell like some scheme to make sure M$ eventually owns the market in those countries. Every pusher knows it's best to hook 'em while they're young.

     

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  12.  
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    code, Nov 27th, 2007 @ 7:44am

    not bad but...

    At first, it was a good project, but now, asus is on the market with his 701, less than $299, good quality, design and performance, what is the future of the olpc... don't know, but asus's future will be better.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    julien, Mar 12th, 2011 @ 7:47pm

    I think governments should stay outside charity business.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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