All That Work Towards The $100 Computer And The Market Beats Them To The Punch

from the whoops dept

The story we’ve been hearing for ages about the $100 computer is back in the news again today with the story that Rupert Murdoch is tossing some pocket change at the project which still has had some trouble getting off the ground. Murdoch talks about how excited he is about the project, noting that researchers have already got the price of the machine down to $125. That’s good to see, but it looks like Moore’s law and basic market competition are racing them to the bottom, as Circuit City yesterday announced that it’s going to sell a Compaq laptop for just $99 this holiday season. Admittedly, it requires a year’s subscription to Vonage — but it does show just how cheap traditional computers are becoming anyway, without necessarily resorting to coming up with a special computer just for the poor children of the world. That isn’t to slight the project, which tries to add other features, such as a crank to deal with the lack of electricity in some places, but to note that there are other factors out there playing into this, and instead of dumping millions into research, it could pay off to just wait a little while longer for the component prices to drop.

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Comments on “All That Work Towards The $100 Computer And The Market Beats Them To The Punch”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Yes, but the key is "HOLIDAY SPECIAL"

I don’t think this particularly matters since its just one of those “Holiday specials” and if you look in the fine print of such buys, there’s ALWAYS a string attached that you have to sign up for a year’s worth of MSN or so (Best Buy, Circuit City, etc) in order to get the $100 rebate to bring it down to that advertised $99…

rstr5105 says:

Re: Don't make them

Ah, Yet another Refreshing intelligent post by dorpus.
Honestly, why is this guy still here?

Okay, enough flaming.

I for one think that the $100 dollar computer project is a good idea, because even in (Oh god dorkus, do I say it?) America there are people who simply cannot afford a computer. One thing that a lot of you people are failing to realize is that these machines are not meant to be “Bleeding” edge. They are meant to give people with no access to computers that access. Forget the circuit city comsuq thing and look at the project for what it is.

Anyways that’s all I got to say.

Unknowledgeable Geek says:

Re: Don't make them


Why is it only third world countries that spam??? I can’t believe we still have such ignorance in this country. I am willing to bet that 4/5 of the spam that we get is generated inside the US. Plus even when you get spam from an IP address outside of the US, it could still originate inside. Plus, you think someone that has never had a computer before is going to be able to spam your email account.

The ignorance in the computer world in the US is unbelievable.

The infamous Joe says:

Re: Re: Don't make them

I feel the need to point out that ignorance isn’t any more or less rampant in the US than the rest of the “civilized” world– just us Americans that show it off more.

I think the idea as a whole is commendable, myself. They’re not looking to finally catch these countries up to the rest or the gaming comunity– they’re looking to give them access to the rest of the world. It’s not good or bad, it’s a tool, and whatever the end result becomes, it’s the right idea.

If you have a better way, I’m sure everyone would love to hear it. 🙂

JDP says:

Real purchase price

How much cash do you have to lay down to walk out of the store with it? A bunch more than $99. The $99 only comes in after you file all the rebates and manage to keep your pledged sub. in for the year long contract. You don’t truly end up paying $99 for the laptop until your sub. is complete and the contract is over. Until then you are liable for whatever penalty fee they put in for breach of contract if you drop the subscription, and that’s probably the remainder of the difference from MSRP *at the time of purchase*. Drop the contract with a month to go an you might owe the whole thing.

$99 my tushy. Doesn’t anyone remember the old Prodigy/MSN discounts of a decade ago? You could save $400 off you new PC if you get 3 years of service! Utter lying crud. Marketing gimmicks != $100 laptop, ever.

pudro says:

It seems like you have ignored the true cost for the sake of slamming the $100 laptop project (not that they don’t deserve criticism).

Don’t you guys also slam those other strategies that try to give away physical goods and make money off of services for them? Not only for the poor strategy often applied, but also because they aren’t actually free? What is this if not the same as those (as far as not truly costing the advertised price)?

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It seems like you have ignored the true cost for the sake of slamming the $100 laptop project (not that they don’t deserve criticism).

Didn’t ignore it. Mentioned in the post that it clearly does cost more, but am simply noting the trend of cheaper and cheaper laptops to hit the market, suggesting that the actual price is likely to keep getting lower as well.

Dosquatch says:

Re: Re: Re:

noting the trend of cheaper and cheaper laptops to hit the market, suggesting that the actual price is likely to keep getting lower as well.

Have we already created the $100 laptop? While real prices continue to drop, inflation continues to rise, amplifying the effect. What price would a laptop have to currently carry to meet an inflation-adjusted $100 goal set way back when the first “$100 computer” project was launched?

RascalLT says:

Just to state the obvious once again – the compaq definitely COSTS more that 100$ to make, despite that it is being sold for that much.

And on the other hand – they are not simply dumping the money on a research which is useless, that are inventing LOWEST COST instead of the popular MAX COMPUTING PERFORMANCE. Which are quite separate things after all. ‘Cause it’s possible to put trash spare parts together and build a 100$ barebone PC, but will anyone guarantee that that thing would work for a week at least? Somehow i doubt that.

After all, all the progress is for the better, for it at least reveals your mistakes! 😉

Matthew says:

Re: Re: So Dorpus...

Re: So Dorpus… by dorpus on Nov 16th, 2006 @ 3:57am
Ever actually been outside of North America?

Yup, spent a third of my life outside of the Western World, in fact. I participate in non-English forums daily, but techdirt gets upset when I start posting non-english links on here.

Two years in France doesn’t count.

michael hubschman says:

The $100 Computer

Get a grip, stop smoking dope and come live in the real world. And remember that waiting for something to come to you results in it blowing right on by while you are left with your thumb up your a**. That is why the world is kicking our a**.

This is about building a machine that won’t die the first time it gets a speck of dust in it, can operate in areas where there is no power and can help those that use it to learn how to better themselves and their communities. It’s about bringing the future to those still living in the conditions of the past. Profit has never been a serious concern of the project.

cheap, simple, sturdy and useful

The infamous Joe says:


I am probably not getting it right, but am I to understand that they’d like to drive the cost of a computer to $99– presumably to make it affordable to pretty much anyone? If that is the case (and I’m pretty sure it is) then what are these afformentioned poor people going to do with it? Spreadsheets? I mean, if they can’t afford more than $99, you think they’re going to float $20 a month for dialup? (or however much it goes for) Definately not dsl or cable, I’d think.

Just package together a pen, some paper and a deck of card and charge them $99– it seems like that’s what they’re getting.

Like I said, I must have missed something. Enlighten me?

Bob says:

You go ahead and buy your $100 laptop. and while youre at it you might as well buy some memory, upgrade the CPU, increase the hard drive space because the computer wont run anything more than windows and even that wont run well. Cheap computers arent good for anything but surfing the internet. You cant play games, edit photos/video/music, run accounting software, render 3D models, use autocad, or anythign else on these cheap PCs. These are for suckers who think a compuer is a computer.

Al DePansieu says:

Precisely why is it that folks feel the need to bring “3rd world countries” up to current social-economical benchmarks? A flood of cheap PCs will only destroy what culture they have left to call their own by exposing them to our culture. Dorpus is onto something, lets not feel too sorry for “3rd world countries”, most of them are that way because of corrupt governments who already owe (debt forgiven, you’re welcome) millions to “western civilization” in financial/humanitarian aid and who don’t know any more than my cat does about how to care for a nation of people. While many folks would utilize such a device in a way that can further develop their nation and their own sense of self worth, and hopefully they will encounter or create some decent porn in their leisure time.
But Dorpus is right, there ARE bad people everywhere, so yes; some of them will become spammers, and some will use these PCs as tools to create problems for as many people as they can. Welcome to freedom.

And what’s with the $100 bit? If you live in a “3rd world country” you sure as F*** won’t be burning your cash on a computer; I’m guessing it would more likely be spent on what was referred to earlier as “You know. Important stuff.” If Murdoch and others are feeling so F***ing benevolent; why don’t they just manufacture the stupid crank-for-power pc, give the things away, and write it off on their income taxes like they do with everything else?

Anonymous Coward says:

it should be "Not An Anonymous coward"

Nazi, comunist, republic. Different forms of government that use power and fear to control their people.

who knows, maybe a Nazi government would make america better?

remember, deomcracy is the worst form of government, aside from the rest of them.

the best argument against democracy is to spend 5 minutes with the average voter.

Pete says:

Re: more than just the kind of gov't.

Nazi is not a form of government it’s a German acronym for the political party of Hitler and his followers. WW2 Germany had a totalitarian gov’t. (Someone obviously correct me if I’m wrong please). There is a famous saying that is brought to mind, “absolute power corrupts absolutely”. If we put one person in charge of everything things will go awry. It’s not just the kind of a government a country has that determines overall effectiveness, its the moral of the people (incl. nationalism/patriotism) the economic model and even the countries foreign policy. Theres a big difference in a country with an isolationist foreign policy vs. an expansionist foreign policy. Look at what kind of trouble an expansionist FP has gotten America into in the recent few decades.

jazzmyn says:

$100 PCs and the third world

Some kid in Darfur is going to be fascinated with what’s inside that $100 PC. After he cracks the case open with a rock, just to see ‘what’s inside,’ we need to grab him and bring him to a Western country. Give him a free education all the way through high school and college. Those kind of kids, with their curious minds, are what the West needs. They are our genuises and leaders of the future, and their talents are going to rot and go to waste in a third world hellhole country. If we aren’t going to do anything to improve the lot of the poor souls of the Sudan, then at least we should make sure their bright minded kids and young people have a future. If it takes a goofy $100 PC to do it, then that’s fine with me.

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