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$100 PC Pledges Fail To Meet Minimum

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the limits-of-generosity dept.


bobthemuse writes, "Nicholas Negroponte's $100 laptop PC was demonstrated back in May, and a PledgeBank was set up: the goal was to get 100,000 people to purchase an OLPC for $300, allowing the project to send two of the devices to the proposed users. Today the pledge ended and only 3,678 people had signed up." It looks like a mention in Slashback a few weeks ago gave a boost to the effort, but not a big enough one.

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Why I didn't (2, Insightful)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671067)

I saw this when it was announced and tbh was put off by this:

"I will purchase the $100 laptop at $300 but only if 100,000 other will too."

I would gladly sign up for a $100 laptop if it cost $100.
I realise everything about starting up and getting the ball rolling but I cannot waste an additional $200.

Its that simple.

Re:Why I didn't (2, Insightful)

nachmore (922129) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671083)

I did - because I think that the cause is justified.

The extra money would have (hopefully) meant an extra two computers distributed, not to mention the fact that I would have become the proud owner of one of the first of these little gadgets. Of course, my personal gain is secondary...

Maybe the target was set a little too high - are there really that many people out there that care?

Re:Why I didn't (1)

ben there... (946946) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671217)

I don't see why they didn't make it $200 instead of $300 to start. $200 is still cheaper than just about any PC available. Sure you only get 1 donated OLPC, but if you get over twice as many people to do it, you end up with more OLPCs donated overall. I could be wrong though. Maybe people wouldn't even do it in great numbers at that price.

Re:Why I didn't (2, Insightful)

Salvance (1014001) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671511)

$200 for a tiny laptop with a crank for charging still isn't a very good deal. Look on ebay and you get can far more powerful used laptops for the same price, or you can get $50 desktops (again, used of course) that would run circles around this odd device.

If not a single industrialized or developing nation would support creating the devices, why should we? The concept was pretty decent, but laptops are not going to solve third world problems. Depending on the African nation, they need teachers who won't get shot, kids who won't go hungry, parents who won't die from AIDS, and/or textbooks that won't be burned for fuel. Spending 6 month's salary on a windup laptop sounds rather absurd next to settling some of the bigger issues.

Re:Why I didn't (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671561)

Look on ebay...

That's not the point. Used notebooks aren't a sustainable plan in large volumes. It's not very maintainable, either, with replacement parts also being over seas. If you do this, you get an unsupportable mess of different notebook models, the steps to repairing each one is different, with different replacement parts needed to fix different models.

The point that is often missed is that the education could have significantly reduced the social ills you described. In fact, in my area, there is apparently a statistic that a kid that can't read by the seventh grade will end up in prison as an adult.

Re:Why I didn't (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671591)

$200 for a tiny laptop with a crank for charging ... Spending 6 month's salary on a windup laptop


See OLPC hardware [] . The crank was one suggestion long ago; and it would only have been a backup when there wasn't any mains power.

Think of another excuse.

Re:Why I didn't (2, Insightful)

jotok (728554) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671899)

For about the billionth time...the $100 laptop isn't intended to let kids in a war zone check their gmail. It's intended for areas where a little cheap, portable, and durable computing power would go a long way. Think of it not as an attempt to solve the worst problems, but maybe the fifth-worst problem.

That said, I'm not wholly convinced about the new device for the reasons you stated. I run a charity wherein I refurbish castoffs and give them to high school kids in poor neighborhoods--in about a month we're going to have our first charity drive to get money for free broadband (Verizon here is like $14/month) or to buy cheap stuff on eBay.

Though again, there are "worse" problems in the ghetto than high school kids not being able to type up a paper at home, but ending gang violence, drug abuse, and absentee fathers are not really within my reach, dig?

Re:Why I didn't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16671913)

And depending on the US State, they need teachers who won't get shot, kids who won't go hungry, parents who won't die from AIDS or be jailed, and/or laptops that won't be sold for drugs.

Or is stereotyping only nasty when you're on the receiving end of it?

Re:Why I didn't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16671237)

Ahh; so you presumably wouldn't buy a laptop from Lenovo ever since they make a profit on the purchase? Do you think the laptop you buy in a shop costs the same to make as you pay for it?

The real reason to ignore this is that it didn't even have tacit support from the OLPC project. I, personally, assumed they had a reason for this and so didn't sign up.

Re:Why I didn't (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671265)

Thats right, I have not got myself a laptop because I cannot afford one.
The computers I have are bought out of necessity, an additional laptop at this point is not required.

Re:Why I didn't (1)

vondo (303621) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671247)

It sounds to me like the extra $200 is to buy laptops for two deserving third world children. I.e., it's charity.

I'm still not going to do it though. For that $200 I can (and do) pay for the schooling for a child or two for a year. I didn't think Clinton's initiative of one computer per classroom was the solution to America's education problems and I sure don't think OLPC is a good use of resources for the third world. As far as I can tell, it's just a stunt that will truly benefit very few people.

Re:Why I didn't (0)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671401)

At $300, the price is just too close to entry-level notebooks and good PDA's, which both offer more.

If you'd calculate the comparetive value of this laptop (bang-for-buck), you'd probably find it close to the $100 mark. After all, it's pretty low spec. These low specs are no problem for it's purpose in third world countries, where price outweighs performance, but it offers very little useful funcionality for us in the west.

Despite the good cause, you can't expect people to fork $200 extra for a machine that they'd regard more as a toy than a tool.

The right price point would be closer to $150-175, but I doubt that would sufficiently offset cost.

Re:Why I didn't (1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671811)

I wonder if the real expectation is that you'll never take the laptop, you'll donate it back to the project. Seems far more likely. Or that you'd buy it for a local group that could use it.

Seems more "realistic" an option than actually expecting people to buy it for personal use. Is it going to be supported by the project?

Re:Why I didn't (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671499)

But it's not a waste, is it, doesn't it buy two extras for children that need notebook computers?

Re:Why I didn't (1)

alienw (585907) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671645)

Not to mention, you can get a much, much better Dell laptop for not much more than that. I got one for like $500, and that was with a gig of RAM and a 1.8GHz Pentium M. While I might have gotten the laptop if it was $100, I don't really care for the cause. I think Negroponte should think about fixing the fucked-up US education system before he starts screwing with those of other countries. Almost every school in the US has tons of computers, but somehow the quality of education has gone down rather than up.

You have an interesting interpretation of boost (1, Insightful)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671125)

Given that there were only a couple of hundred more subscribers after the article and the whole thing fell disasterously short of its target quota.

While the project has its merits I wonder if the lack of interest shown by the public at large and quite importantly by the slashdot audience is an indicator of a project doomed to failure by apathy.

Re:You have an interesting interpretation of boost (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671211)

indicator of a project doomed to failure by apathy.
Well, I don't think it's been advertised terribly well.
Two points are
  • The tax writeoff aspect needs to be emphasized. While we can all get a warm fuzzy in the midriff about the kids, it's that pleasure jolt in the wallet from getting mugged by the taxman that affects behavior.
  • The driver issue bears review. [] explores some of the issues in better detail than anywhere else I've seen. Let's see a contribution bounty, after which some of the companies supporting the hardware cough up their precsioussss, precioussss "intellectual property".

Re:You have an interesting interpretation of boost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16671603)

I like how you demonize intellectual property rights there at the end. Hi. I'm a software engineer. I write software for a living. See, what I do is I sit down for months at a time, sometimes with a project team, sometimes with just one or two other people, and I bust my ass 40 to 70 hours a week building complicated systems - including drivers where necessary - for people who need them.

Then, what happens, and I know this makes me the devil Himself, is I get checks in the mail. I cash these checks, and I use them to support my wife and my son. See, if I just gave away the software, or everybody just stole it, I wouldn't get any checks, and I wouldn't by able to earn a living this way, and I wouldn't write any more software.

I know that this makes me a bad person - what with wanting my wife and child to live a reasonably comfortable life - but I'm afraid those DevilChecks are going to continue to trump your demonization of intellectual property any day.

First I've heard of it (1)

BeeBeard (999187) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671219)

I feel like I was really out of the loop on this. I don't always have my finger and thumb on the pulse of technological issues, but I make an earnest attempt to. I knew about the $100 laptops from a long time ago, but this is the first I've heard of the $300 charity versions. But you know, I'm not some kind of Everyman here, just one man. Maybe my neighbors knew all about this and each bought two (although after looking at the final pledge numbers, that seems unlikely). So whatever kind of advertising they had for this failed me. Whether or not it failed another 300,000 other people is for you to decide.

Re:First I've heard of it (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671345)

I feel like I was really out of the loop on this. I don't always have my finger and thumb on the pulse of technological issues, but I make an earnest attempt to. I knew about the $100 laptops from a long time ago, but this is the first I've heard of the $300 charity versions.

Me too.

I wish I had heard about this earlier. I would definitely have pledged.

/. self agrandizing aside ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16671327)

While the project has its merits I wonder if the lack of interest shown by the public at large and quite importantly by the slashdot audience is an indicator of a project doomed to failure by apathy

Or, could it just be that a large percentage of people who DO know about the project feel that $200 could be spent in far better ways than supplying some third world kids with a stupid laptop. I won't begin to pretend that I know exactly what would be a better use for the money, but I think I know enough to know that a laptop probably isn't in the top 5.

"Doomed to Failure by Apathy" ?! (1)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671411)

Why could it not just be doomed to failure because it was a really silly and poorly-conceived plan by an ivory-tower egghead obsessed with "being digital" to the exclusion of all else including common sense? No one has convinced me of the value of a PC in the education of American and European grade school children, let alone in the third world. Buy them books, pencils, and notepads, and be sure they are fed and loved. Small out-of-pocket cost, huge and time-honored return on investment.

Re:You have an interesting interpretation of boost (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16671819)

It failed because the maker said, "I dont care if 1,000,000 people buy them that way, I WILL NOT SELL THEM TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC"

that kills a campain quite fast if people going into it know that it will go nowhere.

Only if 99,999 other will too (2, Interesting)

biocute (936687) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671131)

I wonder if there is a special reason that requires 100,000 participants (that is, 200,000 OLPC, 300,000 altogether).

Does that mean they can't produce and sell these laptop if there were only 5,000 orders?

Re:Only if 99,999 other will too (4, Insightful)

rbarreira (836272) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671149)

This was not an official initiative from the OLPC makers.

Only 96,322 short (1)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671145)

I'd say that this is fairly conclusive proof of a doomed project. Buy a $100 for $300, who on earth would sign up for that ?

Re:Only 96,322 short (1)

James McGuigan (852772) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671163)

I signed up for one, you insensitive sod.

Re:Only 96,322 short (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16671297)


Re:Only 96,322 short (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16671347)

Social awareness? Not many people can afford paying for that, or they realize that performance is very low compared to price. Even more, we all have in our countries huge companies that increase their profit every little second. And they want us to sacrify for those poor children? OK, that's very nice, but I think that workers are not the ones to buy overpriced goods.

Re:Only 96,322 short (1)

zeromorph (1009305) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671317)

I don't think it's doomed.

Come on, who is the intended audience? Ok then, they won't by it for $300.

Who else might be interested in it? The vast majority of people is happy with a Dell or so and a crappy OS, they will upgrade everything if the advertisement is good, whether they need it or not. Why should they buy one of these "underpowered" laptops?

There are people who are or might be interested in this. In general people who are fascinated by new stuff (and do not directly say "No ...! Lame."). NGOs or scientists, people who work "in the backwaters of the third world", I'm quite sure they will find this thing quite useful and would buy it (btw I would).

But maybe they weren't so enthusiastic about pledging something on some web page somewhere. (I didn't like the idea myself and found 100,000 a bizarre number from the onset.)

Re:Only 96,322 short (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16671425)

Same people who would give money to the EFF, Red Cross, etc.

Re:Only 96,322 short (1)

fitten (521191) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671597)

Except that most people probably figure that food, medical supplies, and basic education are more important for third world development than a computer, at this point in time.

Re:Only 96,322 short (1)

Daniel Rutter (126873) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671701)

If they can actually make an OLPC with the specs of the most recent prototypes, it'd still be a good deal at $300.

It's a significantly more capable machine than an AlphaSmart Dana [] , and those sell for more than $400. There's a definite niche for rugged PC-companion machines with full-sized keyboards. The OLPC beats every previous entrant in that category by having a much better screen - everything else has a "mail slot" black and white screen with pretty miserable resolution.

The Dana is, I think, the best of the breed at the moment, since it has a 560 by 160 greyscale LCD screen and runs Palm OS. The dual-mode OLPC screen beats that by miles, and the OLPC also runs (or will run, or is alleged to run...) Linux.

Re:Only 96,322 short (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16671739)

Jackass hippies, that's who. Thank God there aren't as many of them out there as I thought. Fucking retards.

Slashdot effect?! (3, Interesting)

SpaghettiPattern (609814) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671151)

You'd say PledgeBank would run into a problem in handling all the applications by all them righteous slashdotters. You know, the geeks that get bullied, kicked and bashed because they read books, are proficient with computers, value educated discussion and surely would want to give poorer people a shot at being educated.

... But they didn't ...

There must a whole bunch of cheapskates here on slashdot.

FYI, I pledged for three. Then, for a short time, I contemplated to let them keep the third PC as well. But that is betrayal because you shouldn't dump second grade stuff onto the 3rd world. I decided to actually use the third one seriously and to contribute at least with bug reports.

Hell, I even convinced my not-so-techie brother to pledge and he did. And also consider that we're not from the USA. We're from a part of the world where USD 300 is a higher percentage of our nett income.

Re:Slashdot effect?! (1)

JohnnyDoesLinux (19195) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671243)

I think talking about cheapskates is a bit too far.

Money for food, money for education --- EXCELLENT.

Money so the 3rd world kids can get addicted to WOW, no way.

I still think it would be better to set up something centralized for the kids to have a chance to see a computer
and learn rather than giving PCs to as many as possible. Crap - alot of them do not have a decent place to sleep, let alone anough nutrition on a daily basis.

Plus, where are they going to keep their laptop while they toil in fields or Nike factories?

Re:Slashdot effect?! (1)

ben there... (946946) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671385)

Well, if they only end up with 5 or 10 laptops delivered to each school in a country, that's still a lot better than no computers. Maybe they should have called it the Five Laptops Per School program.

Re:Slashdot effect?! (1)

cduffy (652) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671421)

The WOW strawman is obviously that (or you're unfamiliar with the specs on these things; they're not going to be running WOW). As for your counterproposal, "a chance to see" a computer (or use one in a central location) doesn't have nearly the potential impact of having one's own equipment which one can use for research or communication on a day-to-day basis or tinker with to gain understanding of how it works.

Now, getting more to the point: Communications infrastructure is a core element in having an effective and efficient society, and one part of what these things are about is *communication*. Having an automatic mesh network means that an entire village can benefit from only a single outbound endpoint -- and Internet access is potentially valuable to everyone. Think about farmers tracking the weather (or finding out what the best time will be to haul their crop out to sell), or a family looking up an illness someone has come down with.

Giving away housing and food is a temporary band-aid patch, and does nothing to make those who receive such handouts self-sustaining; giving folks better communications infrastructure (and these laptops, with their low-power mesh networking abilities, are infrastructure and education rolled into one) is a considerably longer-term investment. Folks with better communications infrastructure (and who grew up with access to such) are more likely to be able to do something -other- than toil in fields or Nike factories and create jobs by which others likewise have choices -- and that's a Damned Good Thing.

Re:Slashdot effect?! (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671633)

Money so the 3rd world kids can get addicted to WOW, no way.

WOW won't run on these. They don't meet the hardware spec, let alone they don't run Windows abd will very likely not have relisble net access.

Re:Slashdot effect?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16671301)

I love the smell of self-righteousness in the morning. Smells like... bullshit!

Re:Slashdot effect?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16671319)

For the children. How noble.


Please get over yourself (1)

BeeBeard (999187) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671331)

I don't like where you're coming from at all. Hey, congratulations, you are morally superior to us in every way. And don't forget, it is only when you lord news of your own charity over us that we can be shamed by it.

Re:Slashdot effect?! (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671577)

You'd say PledgeBank would run into a problem in handling all the applications by all them righteous slashdotters. You know, the geeks that get bullied, kicked and bashed because they read books, are proficient with computers, value educated discussion and surely would want to give poorer people a shot at being educated. ... But they didn't ...

There must a whole bunch of cheapskates here on slashdot.

Well, how can I put this politely? Hmmm... Fuck you!

Instead of paying $300 for having two (2) substandard $100 PC's perhaps go to charity if enough people signed up, I chose to donate $300 to a charity which I know is operational, and where a third of the money won't be spent on sending me something I don't need. I don't like to gamble with poor people's lives.

Nor do I believe that dumping things that we wouldn't use on the 3rd world is going to make the gap disappear -- au contraire. I'd rather see them receive one $1000 laptop than ten $100 ones that aren't similar to what the rest of the world use. "Better than what they have" isn't a valid argument, as it serves to keep the gap.

No regards for self-righteous arseholes,

Re:Slashdot effect?! (2, Insightful)

pla (258480) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671615)

There must a whole bunch of cheapskates here on slashdot.

If by "cheap" you mean "not stupid enough to pay $300 for a $100 product", then yeah, you can count me as one of the cheapskates.

Now, I really wouldn't mind getting one of these. I'd even pay a reasonable premium to send some to the actual target market (like perhaps 20-50% extra. But NOT 200% over list just because someone combines the magical phrases "for kids/charity/third world".

Perhaps most importantly, computers don't actually help kids learn. Computers make kids poor spellers, unable to do basic arithmetic, and will only get used for gaming and IM'ing anyway (ever visited an actual school computer lab? I've seen several, and without fail, they have one or two kids writing papers, ten or so wasting time surfing sites like Slashdot, and ten or so gaming (from Solitaire to WoW, depending on connectivity and horsepower).

silly jab at US (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671849)

America averages 30B in private donations per year for foreign concerns. That was in 2002, by 2004 the numbers may have doubled.

The key issue he is, how many people actually know about this program and how many of those are already comitted elsewhere?

Me, I don't care for the project. I already donate to specific local charities as I can see the effects of my donations. I don't have to worry about bleed off by the local governments (overseas ones where this money and possibly the laptops would go)

The land of the free is also the land of the giving freely. While it may be PC to portray America otherwise no one can stand in the way of the facts.

Re:Slashdot effect?! (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671851)

There must a whole bunch of cheapskates here on slashdot

You have doubts that you wasted that much money on a failed project, and now all you're left with is to play with the "omg I'm so moral" card and be pissed at us, cheapskates.

It's hard to admit it that maybe the problem lies within the project itself.

Normal people don't throw money at everything that is labeled "good for the poor children". When you give money for something, you need more arguments than this, or you'll fall for thousands of scams that offer the same kind of evidence as to their impact on an issue.

Did you not consider than maybe paying three times for a single piece of hardware you don't need (to begin with) maybe isn't a way to start a project as groundbreaking as this.

They are eating the fruits of their own shortsightedness. They now have 4000 people who bought the poor children 8000 laptops. If they would price the laptop at $150 (so two people buy one laptop for a poor child), and with a better marketing/advertisement (yes, you need to get the word out there, even for charity projects), they could've made well over their 100k mark, which would result in 50k free laptops for the children.

50k > 8k, but they were greedy.

Not our fault.

google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16671157)

Why doesn't google buy a $200 $100 laptop?

They win by loosing. Also, please note that google had tons of money before the ads. And not that many people ad to google. The ads is a cover-up. Google already had money, which presents as profits to present a shiny bubble.

hahahaha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16671167)

no laptops for the muds!!

Not so fast... (1)

badevlad (929181) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671173)

It can't be immediately. It requires some time for people to understand the project, discuss it one with another and then make a decision.


Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16671189)

How about using taxed income for this experiment?

Please, my Lord, I beg you...... really.... take MY money, and spend it on THIS....

Not a lack of interest (3, Interesting)

Zouden (232738) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671215)

Rather, an unrealistic expectation. It's difficult to sell 100,000 of anything, let alone through a grassroots campaign like this.

Probably partly a lack of interest (1)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671589)

Let me be the first to say: if you are going to go have people share the computer, get a broadband connection and have somebody there who can help support the user, geez, get a decent computer where you can actually read the text and you're not sitting there cranking the thing while you're trying to type

Sell them at Wal-Mart (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16671239)

Make them and sell the things in stores. People will buy one for $200 quite readily. Of course you have to sell more at that price than if they got $300 for them each, but at least their charity would be getting somewhere alot quicker than waiting for pledges.

Change that number to $200 (1)

Yonder Way (603108) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671267)

...and look out for the stampede.

Re:Change that number to $200 (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671395)

Actually, change it to $299. You might not get the whole stampede, but if you got more than 2/3 of a stampede, you'd get get more gross revenue than

Probably you wouldn't get 2/3 of a stampede; you might need to price it at $249 to do that. However, you have to look at net, not gross. Suppose it currently costs you $100 to make the device; you make twice as much per unit at $299 as you do at $200. So you only need more than half a stampeded to get ahead.

This doesn't count the non-tangible but very real benefit of getting people involved.

alternative story (1)

eclectro (227083) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671287)

In other words, the "One $100 dollar laptop per nerd" prgoram is a failure, because the laptop actually costs $300. Because of this failure, the kids in Africa will now be forced to learn with books, paper, and pencils.

Re:alternative story (1)

Andabata (778566) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671457)

You didn't get it. $300 bought 3 computers, only you got one and the two others would be distributed to kids in the third world.

Pledging? (3, Informative)

ronanbear (924575) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671321)

Pledging really isn't something that most people like doing. Outside of the wider public this project has been remarkably quiet. I don't even remember seeing the Pledgebank.

Sign up to buy a computer and then a few months later find out later whether you'll be able to buy one. It's really inconvenient. Such a project requires wider grassroots adoption and the support of a lot of people. The amount of money pledged was huge.

100,000 computers at $300 a pop is $30m. Making the effort part of telethon's and charity drives might have been much more effective than just having a website where you can't even buy one.

It's a cheap simple computer. It might have found a good audience in non geeks interested in trading up from old Windows 98 boxes. It's the one laptop per child project. For selling it in the 1st world it was marketed wrong. It might have done very well if sold as something to get your kid for Christmas instead of an Xbox 360 or an iPod where most of the money goes to charity. Meanwhile the iPod nano Red will sell in huge numbers with a lower (but very decent) amount going to charity.

Advertising (1)

Geeselegs (905363) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671335)

How many places was this publicised? I doubt it even got advertised where it could reach the 10000 caritable people. Hey they could have always gone and asked the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Re:Advertising (1)

ronanbear (924575) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671419)

Yeah. Bill Gates sponsoring a Linux project. He may be giving most of his money away but he's not that charitable.

(Microsoft did of course offer their own operating system license free as did Apple)

Re:Advertising (1)

freedumb2000 (966222) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671429)

Hey they could have always gone and asked the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Tough luck since it doesn't run Windows.

Frivolity (4, Insightful)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671339)

I think one reason why there's not much enthusiasm about this program is a difference of philosophies in how to educate the world's children. Generally speaking, people would rather spend $100 to buy books for a bunch of underprivileged children rather than spend it to buy one computer for one child. The applications of computers in grade school education in the US are kind of fuzzy, which makes it difficult to see how useful they would be in a less industrialized society.

Besides all that, there are numerous other costs associated with making these laptops useful. For example, there's maintenance, theft replacement, training for teachers, and development of a standard computer-based curriculum. Many of these costs are recurring, which means that in the long run, these kids could be worse off from having so much money being tossed onto the bonfire trying to maintain a computer-based education program.

RE: computer based curriculums (1)

chrwei (771689) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671911)

there are many schools with a purely computer based curriculum in the US, and they are very successful. the problem with widespread adoption is the same as the 3rd world: hardware cost and teacher training. only the more well funded school systems can afford to implement such a curriculum, you are basically looking at $600 to $1000 per child (including servers, spares, networking equipment, projectors and smart boards) depending on the classes and software needed. a book based curriculum cost more like $300-$500 per child in materials, and some school districts even have the parents fork over up to $100 in book and lab fees, per year.

from the first time I heard of the OLPC project I thought it was ridiculous, they need to put them in 1st world schools first and develop a working curriculum and efficient teacher training programs that really do end up at that golden $100 mark.

100,000? how about 1.2 million. (1)

Zeek40 (1017978) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671367)

Ummm... didn't Libya [] sign up for 1.2 million of them?

Re:100,000? how about 1.2 million. (2, Informative)

RichMeatyTaste (519596) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671459)

Yes, at $100 each. This was a charity drive to get them to people whose governments *weren't* buying them.

Not an indicator of the project's merits (1)

colmore (56499) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671387)

At $300 a pop in a first world country where computers are nearly ubiquitous, their failure to sell isn't really anything of note. It's a failed gadget launch (and a highly underpublicised one, this is the first I've heard of the $300 offer, not that I've got 3 C-notes kicking around)

This doesn't say anything about whether or not the $100 laptops are a good way of spending money to benefit the third world. Just look at how successful cellphones have been at connecting communities in Africa. That's been a grass-roots and locally run campaign, but it has the advantage that cell-phones are already priced at an approachable point. I think this project has a lot of merit. Infrastructure can do a lot to turn communities that are only sinks for aid into self-supporting ones.

Surely there are some folks out there with some deep pockets. Is there anywhere I can toss $20 gratis?

Re:Not an indicator of the project's merits (2, Informative)

colmore (56499) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671449)

Ahhh, wait a minute, before everyone starts harping on this, notice:

This pledgebank wasn't started by the project and isn't connected to them at all. This is nothing more than a well-intentioned and failed internet petition.

Really, nothing to see here.

Since this is basically charity ... (1)

LaughingCoder (914424) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671391)

... a tax deduction for the $200 difference would have been a help, at least in the U.S.

Re:Since this is basically charity ... (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671579)

Yeah, 'cause what we really nead here in the US, with an effective deficit of 450-800B/yr (depending on how you count SS), is a way for people who can afford a $300 toy to pay less tax.


(BTW - I want a tax deduction, too. But I'd rather see the spending drop first.)

Don't overblow it... (4, Insightful)

CptnHarlock (136449) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671423)

This is NOT a failiure of the project itself. It's a failet net-pledge only. The goal of which was pretty unrealistic anyway. I still signed up though... :) ... one can always hope I thought. Anyway:

This is NOT a failiure of the "One Laptop Per Child" project.


What they should do to make it sell like hot cakes (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16671435)

At least to your average /.'er.

- First, you announce that the laptop will run with a closed source proprietary OS. The exact one isn't important, though something from Microsoft would be a big help.

- Second, you also announce that it will run a small limited subset of apps.

- Third, you produce the laptops and let them loose in the wild.

- Fourth, it's "discovered" that the laptop can be hacked to run Linux.

- Fifth, sit back and watch those /. orders at $300 a pop come flooding in!

Re:What they should do to make it sell like hot ca (1)

Slithe (894946) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671777)

I wish I had modpoints; that made me ROFL.

$120 (4, Interesting)

rlp (11898) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671439)

Sell it to slashdot users for $120 (mfg makes a small profit). That way some of the buyers will end up using it to develop OSS educational SW for it. They should also color code the units; say green for students, blue for teachers, and red for developers (the $120 units). That way if you see a green unit for sale on E-bay - you (and E-bay) knows it's stolen property.

Would it have worked anyways? (1)

emil10001 (985596) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671505)

It seems to me that even if the pledges reached 100,000 that the OLPC may have rejected the offer anyways. They have been trying to collect orders in the range of millions, which drives down the cost of manufacturing and overhead. The other problem with this was that these devices seem to be specifically targeted at youths in developing nations, and IIRC they don't want them on the open market to avoid theft and misuse. The designs they have come up with stand out clearly as what it is, and only childeren in developing nations are supposed to have one.

I did sign up for the pledge myself, because I thought it'd be a cool thing to play with and to support the project. But I never thought that they'd reach 100,000 pledges, it seemed like a very high number.

It makes sense to me... (1)

qazwart (261667) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671527)

Why buy a crippled laptop when you can, for not much more, get one with a lot more power and compatiblity? The $300 price point was way too high. Even if you want a Linux laptop, it's a lot of money to pony up for a system with so little power and technical specs. Could I even run some of the standard Linux programs like MySql and Apache on it w/o choking? Don't get me wrong. It's an amazing machine, but it was designed for a world where power, money, and network infrastructure are rare and valuble commodities. That doesn't really apply on the Northeast coast of the U.S.

I might like the $100 laptop project, and I may even want one myself, but I don't know if I support it so much to put down a few C notes just to show my solidarity.

Maybe to show my support, I'll get one of those magnetic bumpersticker ribbons instead.

Wow... (1)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671729)

I might like the $100 laptop project, and I may even want one myself, but I don't know if I support it so much to put down a few C notes just to show my solidarity. Maybe to show my support, I'll get one of those magnetic bumpersticker ribbons instead.

So you "show" support. Like a pat on the back, you're willing to do that cause it doesn't take effort or resources from you (!support) but actual support is "just a bit too much". Who are you trying to appear supportive for? Your bumpersticker wont give these kids a laptop.

It's just so wrong on many levels; "I stick a sticker on somewhere to show how much I support something", when you en effect don't support anything then perhaps buying a 1$ sticker.

Didn't realize it was expiring (1)

TomatoMan (93630) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671531)

I was waiting to be told when I could buy one. If this was a big campaign, they sure fell short in getting the broader word out. I didn't even realize you could order them yet.

I also didn't realize that, and don't understand why, it's a "limited time" thing. Why not just leave it open? I would have bought one. I'd do it right now if it was still available.

I didn't know! (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671535)

I emailed them when the OLPC first went public, suggesting a buy-two-get-one thing. I was ready to pledge, but I never heard about it. Nowhere, nowhen, nohow.

If people don't know, they can't pledge.


Innacurate summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16671539)

This "pledge bank" was officially rejected by the OLPC folks. Negroponte's group said they would not be selling them to you no matter HOW MANY people pledged. Why does slashdot keep reporting this? It was never going to happen.

New and experimental Pledge (4, Informative)

TomSteinberg (1021177) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671555)

I'm part of the team that runs PledgeBank. You might be interested in this experimental Pledge I just put up for people who still want to be involved with OLPC, but on a more realistic and local level. [] The Pledge is unique because it uses a new feature that isn't in general circulation on PledgeBank yet, cascading Pledges. These are global pledges which you sign up to locally, making a mini version of each pledge with a group of other people who live near you. Take a look, even if you don't sign up, and please give us feedback. This is very much an alpha feature, although the pledge is real.

Human Nature (1)

Brian Ribbon (986353) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671573)

Many people will claim to care about the suffering of children in the Third World, but as soon as it hits their pockets, they'll go back to discussing Jennifer Aniston.

Just call it a $300 laptop (1)

Timberwolf0122 (872207) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671583)

So what if it only costs $100, I the ignorant consumer does not need to know this. Do you really think and i-Pod costs anything like the selling price?

Morons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16671587)

To all of you morons saying "Why would I purchase a $100 laptop for $300?"; It's charity! Try reading a little (I know reading can be difficult for some of you) and you might actually glean some information.

For those of you that are lazy, the extra $200 was supposed to purchase two additional laptops for third world children.

On a different note, what do these people think starving African children are going to do with a laptop? I think Africa has bigger fish to fry...

Re:Morons (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671821)

I think Africa has bigger fish to fry...

Or *wish* they did.

Yeah, insensitive. I know. :-\

Re:Morons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16671871)

what do these people think starving African children are going to do with a laptop? I think Africa has bigger fish to fry...

Enough with africa already! There are third world countries where there is no problem getting electricity and water, and they need to take the next step. Several of those have already signed up for millions of laptops from the OLPC project. They did the math and realized that even if the laptops aren't Core 2 Duos with 8GB of ram and the latest ATI, for $100 a child they can have more for the child than they could have if they spent $100 per child on textbooks.

Re:Morons (1)

pipatron (966506) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671875)

It's not for the starving kids you see at the front page of the red cross leaflets. It's for the more developed African countries (well, maybe not just African) that already have a more-or-less working water and food supply, and now has to get the education level up.

Not interesting (1)

TorKlingberg (599697) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671653)

This pledgebank was set up by someone who's not even affiliated with the OLPC project. The OLPC project never aimed to sell laptops to internet users for $300. It aims to sell laptops to developing countries in large batches for $100 each.

Not surprising... (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671663)

The OLPC has a handful of really great ideas. However, it was clear from the very beginning that it was designed specific enough that nobody else should want one.

The half-sized keyboard and bright (orange) color will keep adults from using it, even if they really need the rest of the features of the OLPC.

The small flash drive/lack of a hard drive, and limited ports, will make it of limited usefulness to kids in developed countries as well.

It has a lot of features that would be great on, otherwise normal, notebooks. But in it's current form, there are very few people who can afford it that would also want it. The price of $300 makes it impractical as well, since used notebooks can be found cheaper, and new notebooks aren't much more.

Scale it up to make a 1st world version, and you'll really have something... The OLPC guys could design it, and sell it to HP/Dell/Sony/Toshiba/etc. Using the money they earn from the manufacturer to fund the OLPC project.

Instead of largely useless $300 notebooks, just start taking $100 donations, don't limit it to people who want to buy one.

NDA, closed hardware == not for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16671669)

I would pledge to buy half a dozen, except the lack of hardware documentation means I can't replace the OS with one of my choosing.

Heck, I can't even maintain the installed OS myself.

Why? Because OLPC signed an NDA with the wireless manufacturer.

Let's face it (1)

PHAEDRU5 (213667) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671725)

Almost nobody gives a crap about the developing world.

Insightful Comment (1)

shoolz (752000) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671737)

11th comment on the site:

I see a small bug in this pledge. Where is the distribution mechanism? If we had some way to say, put our $300 in an escrow account and were able to pay for a super efficient distribution center (and where to put it is another issue) then perhaps interest on the sitting cash could pay to get these things distributed, but we still have no "market based" distro system. The developing nation machines will still end up getting "lost" and end up on e-bay.

If the concept here is to show some distibutor that market demand exists, I still don't see the money, can they track any of us down to collect on this spur of the moment pledge?

I would happily put $300 in escrow if anybody can set that up, walking up to a distibutor and saying " I have $30,000,000 US that i can only spend on product X" would probably be a lot more likely to turn some heads then " we did this internet poll thing..."

Why not just sell it commercially (1)

LinuxDon (925232) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671753)

Why don't they just sell it commercially as a generic device with a healthy profit margin and a one month warranty?
I can see numerous applications for these kind of low cost devices, you could use it as a navigational device, router/firewall, reading books etc.

If they'd just make it look decent without the weird colours, drop the power handle and sell optional car power adapters etc..

The good part for them is that the profit can be used to deliver them to the 3rd world countries. Also, a lot of additional software would be developed for the device.
If it's any good I would buy it for 200 Euro's just for experimenting with it and doing fun stuff.

I think they are aiming much to high at this point.. Also by marketing it purely as a 3rd world equiptment, generates the feeling that it doesn't live up to the 1st world standards.

The whole thing failed for very sound reasons... (5, Insightful)

McFadden (809368) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671761)

We in rich countries don't give laptops to every one of our kids, yet we seem to think we can tell poor countries that this is what they need. I think of a dozen things that would benefit the poor way before we start thinking about fucking PCs.

Capitalism fails again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16671857)

News at eleven.

Man, if capitalist charity did any good to undo the harm done by capitalist exploitation, there would be no homelessness, no hunger, no war, and no preventable diseases (among other things).

The only solution is socialist revolution.

If only I would've heard about it... (1)

toogreen (632329) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671865)

I would have tried to get a few for the school where I work. We wouldn't mind paying the extra 200$. The problem is I never heard about this pledge thing, and as much as I tried to find out how to get my hands on these laptops, all I could find everywhere on their website (and they made it CLEAR) is that the laptops will NOT be sold to individuals or directly to individual schools, but rather sold only to governments, who will then redistribute them to schools. I think they also got this part all wrong. They would have much more success if they open up a little. A lot of schools would be ready to pay the money for it, but If they only rely on governments, It's not gonna happen. Governments don't even know or give a sh*t about it!!

Stupidest idea in a looong time! (2, Insightful)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 7 years ago | (#16671901)

$100 laptop is a terrible way to burn money.

In case you havent been out in the boonies, if you take the chicken bus from any big city in 95% of the countries of the world, out an hour or so, you get to villages where there are no schools, no paper, no pencils, no books, no nuttin!

Those people need:

  1. A SCHOOL! -- meaning four walls and a roof.
  2. A TEACHER! -- meaning somebody that can read nad write and add numbers.
  3. PAPER! -- just the cheapest grade.
  4. PENCILS! -- yes, they do not have pencils.
  5. BOOKS! --

    They do not need: money wasted on what random first-worlders thing third worlders need.

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