Price Of The $100 Laptop Going In The Wrong Direction

from the isn't-technology-supposed-to-get-cheaper? dept

I'll admit it. I've never quite understood the rationale behind the $100 laptop (or OLPC or whatever it's being called these days). Yes, it's a noble goal to get technology into the hands of people around the world with the hope that they can do something productive with it -- but a big top down attempt to build something without much actual user feedback seems destined to fail. At the same time, we've noted that the market seems to be doing a pretty damn good job on its own of driving the price of computers down such that a special project may not make as much sense. So it's a bit amusing to now find out that while computer prices are dropping the price of the "$100 laptop" keeps rising. In fact, the price is now $200 per laptop, showing a rather rapid climb. The $100 laptop was never actually $100. Back in February, project backers said it would be $150. In April, they bumped the price up to $176. Just two weeks ago, they said it would be $188... and now it's $200. And we thought technology was supposed to drop in price over time. Perhaps if they'd acted more like a startup from the beginning things would be moving in the right direction.

Filed Under: $100 laptop, nicholas negroponte, olpc


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  1. identicon
    jack, 30 Oct 2007 @ 10:34am

    What happens when the children these laptops grow up, and want a computer to do some serious networking, or programming, or just things beyond reading, writing and typing?
    They can do all those things without having to 'grow up'. The laptop forms its own mesh network, it has software to encourage programming from an early age and, most importantly of all, run almost entirely free software, which makes the suggestion that the project is somehow limiting comical. If they want to do something the isn't available by default they can install that software, or modify the software already on the laptop themselves, or write their own. If they don't like the 'Sugar' interface they can go ahead re-install a conventional Linux distro. Or BSD. Or Windows. Or anything that will run on the hardware.
    Mike raises a good point, that computer prices already dip lower and lower, so coming up with a special project to "help those in need" sounds a bit out of place.
    OLPC has far broader scope than simply bringing low-cost laptops to children. It is an education and intellectual freedom initiative. There are many aspects to the project that go beyond the laptop itself. But in any case the OLPC laptop isn't comparable to 'conventional' laptops. It is very rugged (I believe hermetically sealed) has a custom made display that can be read in direct sunlight, can be powered by a dynamo, forms a wireless mesh network on its own, ... etc. The project may have serious flaws, but you don't list any of them.

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