from the one-more-time dept
Initially, reports put the device's cost at $10, an error blamed on a mistranslation, leading to a lot of wonder about just how the Indian government could drive the price so low. But even if you accept the correct figure of $100, some of the questions are still valid: if cost is the metric deemed most important by the device's builders, does it put a limitation on the devices' utility? Put another way, is functionality sacrificed in the name of low cost to such a point that the devices become largely useless? Either way, it still seems hard to believe that small, individual efforts can deliver better devices at a lower cost than efforts that piggyback on netbooks' success in the market. This isn't to say that governmental and non-profit efforts can't deliver good innovations, but it seems slightly beyond belief that they will be better able to drive down manufacturing costs better than the competitive market. Wouldn't their resources be better focused on delivering specific innovations, particularly in software and systems, that could be paired with market-based cheap netbooks of any kind, rather than developing their own proprietary, expensive and underpowered devices? This is a lesson that the OLPC crew seems to finally be learning, given the recent news that they're open-sourcing their hardware. Hopefully other groups will pick up on it, too.