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OLPC Says No Plans for Consumer Release

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the us-doesn't-have-poor-folks dept.

Portables 208

Gr88pe writes "The One Laptop Per Child product has clarified that they have not made a decision on whether or not to carry out a consumer release of the XO laptop, despite previous reports. From the article: 'OLPC told Ars Technica in a statement that the company has no plans for a consumer version of the laptop. "Contrary to recent reports, One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is not planning a consumer version of its current XO laptop, designed for the poorest and most remote children in the world," said Nicholas Negroponte, OLPC chairman.' They are considering a number of plans, but have made no formal decision."

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That's good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17582612)

Because, quite frankly, I'm happy with my MBP. OLPC just doesn't fit into the North American market of computers of bling-bling and C2D processors.

Well, congratulations (1)

StarKruzr (74642) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583564)

Maybe others of us want something more durable, cheaper and capable of mesh networking out of the box.

Re:Well, congratulations (1)

ppc_digger (961188) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583718)

And not to mention powered by a hand-crank generator.

Yeah, well... (1)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 7 years ago | (#17584096)

As an open-source author, I'd like to get my hands on one, see how it feels, and maybe dream up some applications or utilities to fit on one.

Well, which is it? (4, Insightful)

LotsOfPhil (982823) | more than 7 years ago | (#17582618)

"Contrary to recent reports, One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is not planning a consumer version of its current XO laptop, designed for the poorest and most remote children in the world," said Nicholas Negroponte, OLPC chairman.

I thought it wasn't for the really poor people. I thought the laptop was for countries that were sufficiently developed that they could focus on education as opposed to sanitation, starvation, etc.

Re:Well, which is it? (5, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17582746)

I thought it wasn't for the really poor people. I thought the laptop was for countries that were sufficiently developed that they could focus on education as opposed to sanitation, starvation, etc.

Uh, education is the only answer to problems with sanitation, starvation, etc. If someone just comes in and does things for you, then you become dependent on them. It's been shown in the past that when you give a lot of food away, people produce less food, people are healthier, people are more able to reproduce... and their ability to produce food is decreased while their need for food is increased.

But if you instead educate people and teach them the values of sanitation, the dangers of unprotected sex, new methods of food cultivation, production, preparation, and preservation... then you have given them a gift which will benefit them every day, inform their every action, and which they can pass on to their children.

Education is the only solution to the problems of the third world. We cannot solve their problems for them. Even if we solved every problem we would have created a world full of dependents. If that's really what you want, then by all means focus on just giving the necessities of daily life to people.

I'm not saying we shouldn't give people food - but what I am saying is that we shouldn't give people food (or anything else) without giving them education and that education is the most valuable gift we can give them.

Re:Well, which is it? (5, Insightful)

namityadav (989838) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583076)

I agree completely. Although I am still not sure if I'll be as convinced by your statements if I replace "education" with "laptops".

What I am trying to say is that although education is certainly the only way to solve the problems in the third-world, I am still not sure if OLPC is the best way to provide that education.

Re:Well, which is it? (1, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583774)

What I am trying to say is that although education is certainly the only way to solve the problems in the third-world, I am still not sure if OLPC is the best way to provide that education.

What you (and everyone else who say this kind of thing fail to realize) is that whether this is the "best" method for giving them education is irrelevant. The people behind this project are hackers -- their area of expertise is computers, so computers is what their project is damn well going to be about! It's not a choice between this and some other hypothetical solution; it's a choice between this and nothing at all.

So seriously, if you think you can do a better job, do it yourself. Otherwise, shut the fuck up because you have no right to criticize!

Bullshit (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17583144)

Your argument is a crock. If someone needs food, they are going to sell that fucking computer. Which makes giving people without food computers: pointless.

Also, if you want to know who he's talking to, read any other Slashdot post about the OLPC. He's talking to every person on Slashdot who said "you idiot, this isn't for bare-means countries in Africa, it's for countries like Libya and Brazil." in response to anyone pointing out that starving people have little use for a computer. So which is it, Slashdot? THAT'S his question.

Re:Bullshit (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583892)

Also, if you want to know who he's talking to, read any other Slashdot post about the OLPC. He's talking to every person on Slashdot who said "you idiot, this isn't for bare-means countries in Africa, it's for countries like Libya and Brazil." in response to anyone pointing out that starving people have little use for a computer. So which is it, Slashdot?


People and countries are two different things. In point of fact, the countries participating in the OLPC project are not the poorest countries in the world (though some other countries, like Libya, have been discussing the possibility of sponsoring some of those poorest countries so that they, too, could get the laptops.) However, the people that it is intended to benefit the most (but not the only people that it will benefit) are, as Negroponte says, among the poorest people in the world, rural villagers in the developing world to whom it is difficult to deliver services and who have limited infrastructure.

Now, the poorest people in the poorest countries have governments (if they have functioning governments at all) that have more pressing needs than educational technology, and lack the educational systems in which to make use of such technology. And their ministries of education are unlikely to be buying the machines.

Or, put another way... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17583484)

Light a fire for a man, warm him for a day.

Light a man on fire, and warm him for the rest of his life.

Re:Well, which is it? (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583816)

I'm not saying we shouldn't give people food - but what I am saying is that we shouldn't give people food (or anything else) without giving them education and that education is the most valuable gift we can give them.

Because a laptop is the same thing as an education. Okie dokie then.

Re:Well, which is it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17583898)

Can you think of a better way of enabling people to teach themselves about virtually anything than giving them access to the internet?

Re:Well, which is it? (0, Flamebait)

shaneh0 (624603) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583960)

So the OLPC has WiFi?

Laptops != Internet Infrastructure.

Re:Well, which is it? (2, Funny)

pclminion (145572) | more than 7 years ago | (#17584116)

Can you think of a better way of enabling people to teach themselves about virtually anything than giving them access to the internet?

Teach themselves? How? The ability to learn is, itself, a learned skill. And hey, being able to read is a big help, too. I suppose the illiterate will just acquire reading skills through osmosis from the sheer volume of data on the Internet.

The Internet, by and large, is full of junk. It consists mostly of people's opinions and ramblings. Without the ability to judge information critically, this is about as useful to a 3rd world dweller as a screen door is on a submarine. Believe it or not, your own ability to use the Internet effectively stems from your 1st world education, not some innate ability you have.

I've got an idea. When you have a child, don't teach it to read, and don't send it to school. Also, starve it a little bit (just a little, you don't want Child Services on your ass). But provide it with a laptop from birth. Give no other assistance. Let's see how your kid stacks up against mine in 18 years.

Why, I bet with the ingenuity he gains from the laptop, he'll be coming up with all SORTS of neat ideas to get food. And once he gets his own farm up and running and doesn't have to worry about that anymore, by God, he'll have time to teach himself arithmetic with Google calculator! Well, once he manages to teach himself how to read, first. But that part's a cinch.

Re:Well, which is it? (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#17584190)

Because a laptop is the same thing as an education.


The point of the OLPC project is to sell laptops and provide associated content and services to national ministries of education to support their efforts to improve delivery of education.

No one is saying that the laptop, in and of itself, is (or substitutes for) education; what is being said is it is intended (along with the associated content and services) to improve and facilitate education.

Wait a minute.... (1)

Protonk (599901) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583856)

Why is education singled out here?

Why can we not solve any of the other problems in the third world for fear of dependency, but it is okay for us to give them education? In this case, are we creating a dependency on teachers (as in the Peace Corps), or teaching supplies (as in OLPC)?

Second, why is education the only solution to the world's problems?

This is an important assertion if it is true, but you haven't made any statement of fact telling me why it is. Education is unimportant if heavy metal contamination lowers retention abilities, raises child mortality, etc, for a small environmental example. Even more directly, if the kleptocratic governments depend upon stealing resources, killing people and repressing freedom, then what does education bring to the mix? I'm not suggesting that education is worthless, or that, all things being equal, it isn't better to have more rather than less. What i am suggesting is that the notion of establishing the primacy and efficacy of granting eduction is flawed.

On a very cynical note, education is one of the hardest of services to deliver, and is impacted my multisystem flaws and problems, so claiming that education is the key may be a way to forestall admission of failure. As long as education isn't there, then shipments of food might go uneaten, or what have you. I'm not that cynical, but I'll leave it to the conspiracy theorists.

The "pull yourself up by the bootstraps" argument doesn't hold a lot of water either. In order for that to work, we've got to waive public health issues, financing issues, security, etc. There are a host of third party problems that individual people are faced with that are in extremis in the third world. These are not issues that are solved by good ole' stick-to-it-ive-ness. These are issues that are solved by revamping public health, moving government out of the business of thievery and providing for security.

Re:Wait a minute.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17583990)

kleptocratic governments

Thank you for using one of my favorite words! It seems more relevant to the world situation than ever!

But don't blame me, I voted for kakistocracy!

Re:Well, which is it? (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 7 years ago | (#17584108)

Uh, education is the only answer to problems with sanitation, starvation, etc.

This, unfortunately, is one of the great fallacies of rich countries. If we can just bring knowledge to the ignorant savages, all the problems go away.

The reality is that education is completely useless is an environment of corrupt governments, gang warfare, civil war, local warlords, etc, etc, who basically steal anything of value. For education to be useful, you first have to have a stable civilization in place. These people live in a reality that rich people cannot understand (including myself, but I at least know that it exists). Education is not a magic wand that suddenly allows them to fight against oppressors.

Re:Well, which is it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17582772)

children aren't consumers? what kind of dumb-ass marketers are these?

Re:Well, which is it? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17583060)

"Well, which is it?"


I really don't think they know yet.

This is a business deal. Humanitarian aid is the product to be markedted, not the goal.

There is a surplus of used computers in the world, these are the computers people in poor areas need. They would be cheaper than $150 each to buy and ship, and they would be of far more use than these crappy laptops.

Re:Well, which is it? (1)

StarKruzr (74642) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583590)

No, they wouldn't.

Monitors and steel cases are heavy.

Re:Well, which is it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17583742)

They would be cheaper than $150 each to buy and ship, and they would be of far more use than these crappy laptops.

But they usually don't come with hand cranks.

Re:Well, which is it? (3, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583806)

There is a surplus of used computers in the world, these are the computers people in poor areas need.


No, they aren't. They aren't designed for use in rural areas with limited power and other infrastructure, the OLPC machines are. Further, the used computers aren't to one standard, the OLPC machines are, which enables national ministries of education buying them to support them more easily, and have standard software and content that works the same on all of them. Etc.

They would be cheaper than $150 each to buy and ship,


Not much, if at all.

and they would be of far more use than these crappy laptops.


Actually, they'd be far less use. They aren't designed for the use they'd be put to, they often aren't reliable to start with, they don't present a common, open platform. They don't, unlike the OLPC machines, have keyboards specific to the receiving country to accommodate national languages. In short, they are nearly, if not entirely, useless for the role that the OLPC machines are targetted for.

Re:Well, which is it? (1)

Bin Naden (910327) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583926)

Pr0n for every child!!!

Re:Well, which is it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17584136)

Child for every pr0n!

One of the more interesting ideas (4, Interesting)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 7 years ago | (#17582622)

One of the more interesting ideas that I have seen is to allow people to buy an OLPC for say, double the price, thus also buying one for a child oversees.

The part of it that would be of interest to me would be a system that would allow a westerner to just buy one of these for a child oversees.

Re:One of the more interesting ideas (5, Interesting)

Rik van Riel (4968) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583332)

I've seen an early XO machine in action at the office (I'm lucky enough to have some of the XO team as colleagues) and I know I want one for my self, too.

I would not mind buying two for children overseas - especially if the system of charitable contributions is set up so we end up with a "negative salestax" - but I do not want to miss out on one for myself either.

The screen may be a bit small compared to what I use on my desktop, but it's got a decent resolution and can be read outside. I want to be able to sit on the deck or in the garden and edit wiki pages, browse the web, listen to music or show stuff using the built-in camera.

The XO is also much more rugged than normal laptops. You can actually take it outside without worrying about it breaking because of dust or some raindrops. I want one :)

I've got a great idea.. (3, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583696)

how about we round up all these people who want to play with an OLPC laptop and ship them off to one of the pilot nations to train teachers or children how to use it. You get to play with it, the kids get someone to teach them, it's win, win right?

Re:I've got a great idea.. (1)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583994)

Nah, that would actually require some work besides sitting in the garden and trolling on wikipedia.

Re:One of the more interesting ideas (1)

IgLou (732042) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583702)

I would totally buy one, no two, one for each of my kids. Even at double the price it's a fair deal and it would feel great to know that somewhere out there is the twin of that machine that some other child is using.

I really hope it does become available in developed countries in the way that you mention. I think that's a fantastic way to contribute.

Re:One of the more interesting ideas (0, Flamebait)

shaneh0 (624603) | more than 7 years ago | (#17584006)

"it would feel great to know that somewhere out there is the twin of that machine that some other child is using"

Or--not to be cynical--some other war lord or terrorist or future war lord or terrorist.

Focus on your Core Competancy (2, Insightful)

BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583762)

The mission here is to give the 3rd world easy access to laptops. While it'd be cool for we well-off to have yet another cheap consumer electronics device, that's not the point and would distract resources and attention away from their mission. Since quantities would eventually be limited, even the one-for-me-one-for-third-world-kiddy idea would mean fewer where they are needed. Longer term, that's a nice idea, but for now best get them where they're needed. You could make an argument that underclasses in rich countries need them too, but if they're at Frys something has gone wrong. I'm on a low income, but even I have 5 working laptops and 2 working desktops. I don't need another PC and probably neither do you! :-)

Re:One of the more interesting ideas (1)

MoxFulder (159829) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583852)

Ya... I really think they should implement something like this. There's clearly a demand for these, even at a price of $200-300. If they don't sell OLPCs in the developed world, there will be a gray market of them on eBay, which will benefit no one except for the shady importers.

If there's a "buy one, donate one" system, we rich people will get cool toys, and poor kids will get their computers further subsidized. Good for everyone, right?

I can easily see the OLPC eclipsing the Wii and PS3 as the must-have cool gadget of 2007 :-)

Re:One of the more interesting ideas (1)

OnlineAlias (828288) | more than 7 years ago | (#17584138)

The greeny, tree hugger, hybrid car set would love this. As long as they could be ensured everyone else knew why they bought it, they would buy them up in droves. They should put some kind of logo on them that reflects their "contribution" to the world. Yep, that will work perfectly.

Toyota learned this marketing move on their hybrid cars, and redesigned their "hybrid" badges and logos to be much larger.

Re:One of the more interesting ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17584150)

I already signed up for that scheme, or rather the pledged my support and intention to buy one at three times the cost.

Obviously it's not a good idea to give these to "consumers" because "consumers" just consume things. However I would like
one for myself. If Mr Negroponte is not willing to offer me one becuse he is allowing the project to be bullied by other
laptop manufacturers then I withdraw my support and my money.

By the way I hope you are not referring to me as a "consumer" in the summary, because if you are I'll slap your face.:)

clarification? (4, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#17582628)

The One Laptop Per Child product has clarified that they have not made a decision on whether or not to carry out a consumer release of the XO laptop

So they clarified with ambiguity. Good show.

Re:clarification? (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583808)

"We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!" -- Vroomfondel, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

The summary title says they have no plan to do so. (1)

greenguy (162630) | more than 7 years ago | (#17584188)

And I have no comment on their lack of plans.

Production (4, Insightful)

MBCook (132727) | more than 7 years ago | (#17582644)

I've heard good arguments for this (more people hacking, less incentive for a gray/black market, buy one for the price of two so the second goes to a kid), but could they be taking this position because of production? After all if they want to give a million of these away and people like /.ers buy 100,000... while that would mean money to give 100,000 laptops away to kids we just bit 10% of their production away. I seem to remember reading somewhere that based on the number they will be giving out it will be one of the top 4 laptop "brands" in the world almost immediately. Perhaps they simply can't spare the production at this time?

Re:Production (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17582796)

Perhaps they simply can't spare the production at this time?

If that is true, then they are probably having problems with production already. Instead of giving away a laptop for each one purchased, they could use that money to improve production capacity, to do research on further cost reductions, or to pay for additional software development. It doesn't necessarily have to be a buy-two-get-one scheme to be useful.

Re:Production (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583640)

After all if they want to give a million of these away and people like /.ers buy 100,000... while that would mean money to give 100,000 laptops away to kids we just bit 10% of their production away.


They aren't giving any away, they are being purchased by national ministries of education. IIRC, the goal was to get commitments on orders for 5 million before starting production, and has already been exceeded.

That just seems dumb... (3, Interesting)

JoeLinux (20366) | more than 7 years ago | (#17582694)

When you have many people purchasing, you can order in larger quantities, and lower prices all around.

If people demand it, the market should supply it.

I say we develop a "one child per laptop" organization. It's function would be to convince governments to develop laws mandating that you can only have a child if you have a laptop.

Re:That just seems dumb... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17583084)

If people demand it, why should the market supply it?
People demand free cars.
Should Ford step up to the plate?

Re:That just seems dumb... (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583426)

If people demand it, why should the market supply it?

But the laptops are already being made. The more they sell, the more economy of scale works to reduce the cost of the thing, which benefits everyone - users, manufacturers, and designers. With the Ford example, giving the cars away for free only benefits end-users.

-b.

Re:That just seems dumb... (1)

Jarlsberg (643324) | more than 7 years ago | (#17584110)

Heh, this is what goes for insightful these days?

People don't demand free cars. They demand cars, and car makers are providing them with whatever they can offer at the best price they're getting away with.

OTOH, many people may want a free car, but that doesn't mean they're going to get it.

Why the hell not, (5, Insightful)

vespazzari (141683) | more than 7 years ago | (#17582712)

I think plenty of people where happy with the idea of buy 2 get 1. I would love to get my hands on one or 2 of those. It seems stupid to limit your marked to begin with. Unless I am misunderstanding the article, which seems to have to different points going on. I understand that the development is not geared toward the developed world but that doesn't mean that some will not want it.

Re:Why the hell not, (4, Interesting)

afxgrin (208686) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583014)

I was happy pledging to buy one for 3 times the price, and apparently that's not good enough. I just don't understand the logic behind restricting consumer's from purchasing one. I don't care to own a cheap laptop, i'm more interested in developing software that will operate well on these laptops. The idea is to push the hardware to the limit, as I might want to work with some of these people who will be eventually owning these machines.

Re:Why the hell not, (3, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583322)

Several reasons why not, most notably:

1. Selling the same model would undermine the social-disapproval mechanism the project hopes will discourage a gray market in the OLPC machines; which is why the program has often said they are looking at making a distinctive derivative version of the machine for individual sale.

2. The price point is controlled by the fact that they aren't supporting an infrastructure for individual sales/support/etc., only selling to national ministries of education in enormous lots. Paying twice the cost that governments were buying them for in bulk wouldn't be enough to support commercial individual sale and have excess "profit" to subsidize delivering one to the developing world.

It's still a good funding idea... (4, Interesting)

grapeape (137008) | more than 7 years ago | (#17582742)

Several of the features of the Laptop initiative arent things that the average power user is going to want or need, but they are features that would be great for niche areas. One that comes to mind is journaling for camping and hiking, emergency services, etc. Im sure there are hundreds of others. I know I would have enjoyed having one when I had phone service but no power during an ice storm a few years back.

One idea I heard floating around was the to buy one for yourself, you would have to buy one towards the initiative. To me that sounds like a win win, they get more in contributions to the cause, people that want to play with one get the opportunity and production orders increase which usually drives down costs even more.

Re:It's still a good funding idea... (2, Interesting)

stefanlasiewski (63134) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583610)

One idea I heard floating around was the to buy one for yourself, you would have to buy one towards the initiative.

This is similar to what the Freeplay Foundatation and C. Crane were doing with the Freeplay Lifeline Radios [ccrane.com] . Buy one for yourself, and one is donated to orphans in Rawanda.

Apparently this wasn't popular enough, because it looks like Freeplay and C. Crane have discontinued the program. The radios were probably too large and ugly for most American shortwave consumers, I suppose.

as idiotic as the rest of the program (-1, Flamebait)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 7 years ago | (#17582752)

Yea, you wouldn't want to make a product like this available to people openly. That would only result in a greater availability of software for it and help reduce costs for all devices due to economy of scale. Much better to have questionable governments and other organizations buy them at a discount and rather than put them in the hands of those they are intended for sell them at inflated prices on the electronic bay of theives, with the market boosted by no legitimate channel to buy them, increasing the black market profit and having a negative effect on the olpc program.

These guys seem to have no Goddamn clue (3, Funny)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 7 years ago | (#17582758)

Why would they not want to sell the initial run of these things at a markup to us decadent westerners in order to get the volumes up and bring down the unit cost? Do they not understand the concept of flushing out problems by unloading overpriced units on early adopters? They really need to speak to Apple.

Re:These guys seem to have no Goddamn clue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17583098)

...and Sony

Re:These guys seem to have no Goddamn clue (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583502)

Why would they not want to sell the initial run of these things at a markup to us decadent westerners in order to get the volumes up and bring down the unit cost?


Assuming this part is serious, and only (if anything) the later questions were sarcastic...

The orders they are taking are something like 1 million+ units per order; it would take a huge (and expensive) marketing blitz to even have a remote chance of getting enough consumer sales to make a substantial difference in the overall volume and unit cost. Plus, selling the same units (rather than a visually distinctive consumer model as the OLPC folks have talked about as a possible follow on) would undermine their efforts to use social disapproval as a method of restraining theft and resale. Plus, further, the markup would be huge: the reason the laptop is so inexpensive isn't just the components, its the lack of the kind of retail chain, facilities for individual support, etc., that are needed to support a consumer product.

Good Decision (4, Interesting)

Suriken (922504) | more than 7 years ago | (#17582788)

Definitely a good decision if there is going to be a shortage (at the start) of these products in the developing countries. reportedly enough for some to sell on the "gray-market"
(Bletsas acknowledges that some abuse is inevitable. "Will some parents sell their children's laptops on the gray market? Sure." ) source [linuxtoday.com]
Yes this is only initially, but if the children that these laptops are designed for are missing out because some random wants to play with it in his apartment along with his 2 pc's his other laptop, his pda and 3 game consoles something is seriously amiss, regardless of how much he pays for it.

Re:Good Decision (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583450)

Definitely a good decision if there is going to be a shortage (at the start) of these products in the developing countries. reportedly enough for some to sell on the "gray-market"

Sell as many as you can to whomever can buy. The profits can be used to increase production capacity.

-b.

I too think it may be good (3, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#17582798)

We all see the OLPC thing as a fun little toy. We all want to play with it. But for us to have a toy to play with may easily backfire into a situation where the next set of 419'ers or click-fraud farms are enabled through the use of OLPC devices.

If the use an application of these things are considerably more limited and not general purpose, then that could go a long way to prevent their abuse.

Re:I too think it may be good (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583216)

But for us to have a toy to play with may easily backfire into a situation where the next set of 419'ers or click-fraud farms are enabled through the use of OLPC devices.

I would venture if someone wanted to use these to make a 419/click-fraud farm, they would find one either on the grey market or just take one. (There should be plenty going to war torn, despot leaded areas of Africa where a militant could just walk out and go YOINK!)

The tinkerers would be the ones necessary to find how they're doing it and plug it up.

Re:I too think it may be good (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583466)

We all want to play with it. But for us to have a toy to play with may easily backfire into a situation where the next set of 419'ers or click-fraud farms are enabled through the use of OLPC devices.

So I guess that we should make everyone undergo a strict background check and state their reasons for wanting a computer license before they get to buy a computer? If someone's using a computer for fraud, arrest them, but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

-b.

Re:I too think it may be good (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583496)

Freedom is more important than preventing abuse.

Re:I too think it may be good (1)

Protonk (599901) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583902)

More to the point, freedom does prevent abuse. Transparency is the key here. Those computers will get hacked if they are insecure, no doubt about it. Whether they get hacked by people intent on exploring or exploiting is up to the OLPC makers.

Re:I too think it may be good (1)

Protonk (599901) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583954)

how does limiting sale to the developing world prevent abuse? Do the contracts associated with the laptops prevent arbitrage (resale)? Is there any enforcement mechanism that you can think of that would ensure this, even if they did?

Pound for pound, these probably aren't worth it (even without the buy 2 get one 1) to purchase and use as a network of computers to defraud people. Much easier just to buy used, steal via bots, or spoof ips for that.

How does selling to the developed world (in terms of security only) do anything but expose OLPC to to rigorous security attention from a comunity that is interested and commited?

 

Everybody knows (3, Interesting)

KalvinB (205500) | more than 7 years ago | (#17582820)

there are no poor people in first world countries that could possibly benefit from having a cheap PC. /sarcasm

If they don't *know* that this laptop would be a huge benefit to poor people in ALL countries, then they're either being threatened by the likes of Dell (hard to sell $500 POS desktops when you can get a durable $100 laptop) or are completely blind to the people who are right under their noses.

As long as I have a computer with an internet connection I will never be broke. I may be homeless, but I'll never be broke. But, I guess people don't care about the homeless people in say New York that could use a laptop to get started in developing web-sites to bring in some extra money (or even to find resources like food banks and shelters) to help them get back on their feet.

Re:Everybody knows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17583616)

There's definitely something behind this. The decision to not sell them in rich countries makes no sense.

There is a demand for them... a demand that will be satisfied by the people in these poor countries selling them back the rich ones, thereby negating the whole fucking point. And why not sell them in the rich countries... and use the money to buy more of them for the poor ones?

Too popular? (2, Interesting)

Minimum_Wage (1003821) | more than 7 years ago | (#17582838)

I think OLPC is a little scared that there might be more interest in this as a consumer device than as a philanthropic project. Given the low cost, capability and hacker-friendly nature of the OLPC (at least on paper) it could be a huge success as a commercial product. Given that, I think they'd be crazy not to offer the buy-two-get-one options just to cut down on the black market that will otherwise develop...

Way too popular (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583904)

For the most part, this project seems pretty admirable - getting cheap technology in the hands of people who for the most part have been left out of the digital "revolution".

But there's something about it that nags at me, and I can't quite put my finger on it. Something a little condescending, a little too much hubris about it all. The way the planned recipients of these devices are described almost in cargo-cult like terms. Almost as if the Great White Fathers in the West expect to come back a year later and find groups of savages dancing around a backlit display wearing penguin masks and chanting "how-to, how-to".

Every time I hear about this project I find myself thinking, for some reason, of the British bringing the Delaware Indians diseased blankets. I know it's not fair, but that's the mental connection I make.

Re:Way too popular (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583930)

But there's something about it that nags at me, and I can't quite put my finger on it. Something a little condescending, a little too much hubris about it all. The way the planned recipients of these devices are described almost in cargo-cult like terms.


Please provide an example of the OLPC project describing the planned recipients of the devices in anything fairly described as remotely resembly "cargo-cult like terms".

Re:Way too popular (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17584084)

What bothers me is that the actual education part is very handwavey -- throw a bunch of laptops out there and assume that learning will follow. They do appear to have some kind of plan, but it's not only untested, it's not even a very well developed idea.

I think we're handing out a bunch of very large lime green mp3 players. Oh well, as charity goes, I can't see this one being too destructive (unlike the food programs that destroy the very farming economy necessary to get out of famine).

A Question I didn't ask on the OLPC wiki.. (2, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583128)

because it is one of those bullshit "hypothetical" questions that I really hate.. but hey, this is Slashdot, so what the hell. If I show up 6 months after the first government sale with $100,000,000 will the OLPC sell me some laptops? Or will they say "no, we don't want your money".. hmmm.. let me think about this.. hmm.. I'm pretty sure they'll take my money. They might say "we require you to guarantee us that these laptops will be used solely by children" and when I say no? Will they say "no dice" and walk away or will they say "ok, the price just went up $100 per unit".

If someone nice and rich out there really wants to buy these laptops for the first world, I think they can do it. Just don't go asking OLPC for 3 units "for my grandkids" for xmas next year.. cause that's not the way electronics manufacturers sell stuff.. they sell in bulk to retailers who add their markup, add postage and handling, etc.

Re:A Question I didn't ask on the OLPC wiki.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17583262)

The companies involved expressly intend to market the technology. That's never been a secret.

The point people seem to be missing is that it is NOT economical to sell to end users - the economies of scale when you NEED to sell 10 000 000 to get the price down to $150 just don't work for indivual shipping to a few 10s of thousands of home users.

As for the grey market, you just try buying one of those and shipping it over here. You'll be spat on on the street for robbing children. You think you'll ust be left to play with your stolen toy while drinking your latte at starbucks?

Re:A Question I didn't ask on the OLPC wiki.. (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583506)

The point people seem to be missing is that it is NOT economical to sell to end users - the economies of scale when you NEED to sell 10 000 000 to get the price down to $150 just don't work for indivual shipping to a few 10s of thousands of home users.

So sell to an electronics supply house (perhaps for more than $100 in the US) and let *them* handle the distribution logistics to end users. Let them decide whether there is demand for the product and at what price. If they buy 1000 of the laptops at $250 a pop, you've still got $250,000 in hand, regardless of whether they're stuck with them or not.

-b.

Re:A Question I didn't ask on the OLPC wiki.. (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583540)

1000 aint shit. Try 500,000 at $250 each.

Re:A Question I didn't ask on the OLPC wiki.. (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583542)

As for the grey market, you just try buying one of those and shipping it over here. You'll be spat on on the street for robbing children. You think you'll ust be left to play with your stolen toy while drinking your latte at starbucks?

Robbing? If Negroponte's company is making a profit, you gave money to the company. This money can be reinvested to manufacture more OLPCs at even lower cost to give to more children. That's the way capitalism works, tovarish.

-b.

Re:A Question I didn't ask on the OLPC wiki.. (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583886)

He wasn't talking about buying one from the developers, he was talking about buying one from some warlord who hijacked the shipment and hocked them on Ebay for ammo money.

Someone should design a PDA (2, Insightful)

rm999 (775449) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583200)

in a laptop case. Because that is all this is. I just bought an Ipaq with very similar specs for 120 dollars. The only thing the laptop has is a bigger (but lower quality) screen...

I agree that the OLPC is designed well and sounds really cool, but in practice I think most people in the developed world would be hard-pressed to find actual uses for it. Our youth shouldn't be trained on a specially-designed OS that has little relation to actual OS's when we can afford simple windows, linux, or OSX based desktops. Most adults wouldn't be caught outside using this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:OLPC-XO_in_Colo r.jpg [wikipedia.org]

Re:Someone should design a PDA (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583444)

just bought an Ipaq with very similar specs for 120 dollars. The only thing the laptop has is a bigger (but lower quality) screen...
Really? Which Ipaq, exactly, did you buy for $120 with a 1200x900 pixel monochrome reflective display that could also function in a lower resolution color mode?

Re:Someone should design a PDA (3, Insightful)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583794)

I agree that the OLPC is designed well and sounds really cool, but in practice I think most people in the developed world would be hard-pressed to find actual uses for it.

90% of "computing" work involves writing documents. This would do fine for the purpose. As it would for chatting, e-mail, and a lot of web browsing.

Most adults wouldn't be caught outside using this:

I seem to recall Apple selling quite a few clamshell iBooks. If anything, this is a bit more elegant and tasteful. I'd certainly buy one or two.

-b.

Re:Someone should design a PDA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17583976)

Most adults wouldn't be caught outside using this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:OLPC-XO_in_Colo [wikipedia.org] r.jpg [wikipedia.org]

Oh no! How DARE you question my sexual orientation with a green laptop!

OLPC is a failure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17583268)

I know it's not popular to admit it, but it it is. First off -- it's not Linux's fault. Linux is irrelevant. It's about the design decisions of the OLPC. For example, using x86 chips. ARM is less expensive and uses less power mhz per mhz than any x86 chip. Using an ARM chip would probably cut total power usage by 10% (most of the power is used by the display and other chips). If they wanted to do double duty as a portable heating device, an x86 would be a fine choice. For something that needs to be industrial strength and low power, x86 is a failure.

No sale (1)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583318)

If it can't sell commercially its not likely to be a success in its main aid mission either -- if it works that badly then it works that badly everywhere. If it can sell commercially then economy of scale will help lower the cost per unit for that main mission.

IMHO, a small but successful commercial run should be a minimum prerequisite for the major rollout.

Re:No sale (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583618)

If it can't sell commercially its not likely to be a success in its main aid mission either


It doesn't have an aid mission. Its not soem gift being airdropped by the West onto developing nations, its something national governments are buying.

If it can sell commercially then economy of scale will help lower the cost per unit for that main mission.


Its main mission provides more of an economy of scale (and without the hassle of dealing with retail networks or direct support of individual users) than marketing to consumers would be likely to.

They should sell them to consumers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17583328)

If they don't sell them to the people who want them, then a black market will materialize itself. Sooner or later, the people in these third world countries will decide that feeding their families for a month (I don't know how long they could actually feed their families on the value of a black-market OLPC machine) is more important than actually using it to educate their kid. If you want one of these, look on eBay. They'll be there.

Kids in developed nations being left out (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17583394)

Geeze you know, my kid dosen't have a laptop. Now that I think about it, I don't think that there is a single kid in his class of 30 that does.

OLPC is a great idea, but I wonder how many children in America or other developed nations actually have a laptop.

Even at 2 for one, I bet you would find a huge number of children in our own backyards getting these tools.

The problem is distribution (1, Insightful)

the Gray Mouser (1013773) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583424)

If they allowed consumers to purchase the laptops, they would need to develop the corporate infrastructure that would begin at the factory and end with a worker putting a single laptop in a box and shipping that box to a single consumer.

There went all the cost savings they gained by only supporting large purchases.

By only supporting large sales, they can pack, sell, and ship these computers by the container. Load the container onto a train at the factory (or truck to a train), then to a shipping port, and ship to final destination country.

Far simpler and more economical.

Re:The problem is distribution (1)

DavidShor (928926) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583632)

I thought they could do this the way most sites sell t-shirts, there is some 3rd party firm(Amazon or the like) that they partner with. Amazon puts on their front page "buy a XO" and takes a small cut. At that point, shipping laptops to Amazon for distribution becomes no more difficult then loading containers onto a truck.

Chanel Conflict... (4, Insightful)

WoTG (610710) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583442)

I wonder if the hesitancy on the part of them to release this for consumer purchase is due to pressure from AMD and the other component manufacturers. (AMD manufactures the CPU in the OLPC) They don't want to sell millions of low-end CPUs, screens, etc. in the Developed World... they are much better off with the current entry level of $500 or so for a laptop.

Personally, I would consider converting my home server to one of these OLPCs. A couple hundred MHz, a couple USB ports for storage, and low power usage sound about right.

Re:Chanel Conflict... (3, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583676)

Probably not. The hesitancy is because OLPC sees social disapproval as a key component of discourage theft and resale, and therefore doesn't want to sell the same computers to the public; they've stated more than once that once they get rolling with the main units, they may look at a distinctive commercial derivative for individual sale.

Re:Chanel Conflict... (2, Interesting)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583912)

once they get rolling with the main units, they may look at a distinctive commercial derivative for individual sale.

What do you mean, "derivative?" All they need to do to is use a different color plastic for the case on the commercial version. That'll make it plenty "distinctive," and it's easy enough that they can sell them immediately!

Re:Chanel Conflict... (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#17584154)

What do you mean, "derivative?" All they need to do to is use a different color plastic for the case on the commercial version.


Well, here's what the OLPC Wiki [laptop.org] says:

Retail Sales on the Open Market
This part of the model is currently not clearly defined. Firstly, it is not something that OLPC itself will do either now or in the future. However, there will be retail sales of 2B1 or similar models. This will happen sometime after the initial country rollouts when the manufacturers are comfortable enough with production on a large scale. At that point, there will be a process for retail sales channels to licence the design and contract for it to be manufactured targeted directly at the retail market. Given the expectation of volume shipments of educational units in the summer of 2007, it is unlikely for retail sales to begin before 2008.

Initially, this is likely to be for units virtually identical to 2B1 targetted solely at the educational market in North America and Western Europe. But the design will be available for licensing to companies who want to produce a device for the open market. Before this will happen, the OLPC will review their licencing terms to determine what special restrictions may need to be placed on open sale of these laptops. This is done in order to protect the educational deployments which are, and will remain, the primary focus of the OLPC.

Any restrictions will be designed to limit the possibility of educational units being diverted to the open market. This likely means that the case styles will be different and that units may have some enhanced capabilities such as built-in Ethernet, extra flash RAM or it may be required that they are bundled with one or more accessories.

Send in the clones (2, Funny)

rawhite (1050508) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583494)

And, what's to stop someone from copying this effort and go retail?

You want what you can't have (2, Insightful)

coderpath (1038658) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583556)

Smart. A product which would totally fail in the marketplace under normal circumstance will probably become a "must have" item simply because you can't buy it here. I'll be buying mine off eBay.

Re:You want what you can't have (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17583704)

Surely you don't think M$ will allow anyone in the USA to buy one of these. I mean it doesn't run windows, the manufacture didn't pay a hidden windows tax, it runs an operating system closely aligned with Red Linux from China, and lastly the folks in Washington will be able to pocket some $ to prevent it's import I'm sure. Nothing to see here, please buy that Dell laptop with Vista extreme instead please...

How to port educational game ChipWits to OLPC?? (1)

dougsha (247714) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583662)

We are reviving our old programming game ChipWits and would love someone to do an OLPC version as freeware.

Stupid? I would buy one... (2, Interesting)

kosmosik (654958) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583716)

Yesterday I've read a BBC (or smth. like that) article that stated it would be possible to buy two and get one (the other one donated to some other country) - I would certainly do that. Come on - a quite usefull and supported by Linux, well designed machine. Hell I would shell out $200 for this one with no problem. Even bare without operating system (I would hack my own). This is as for me.

But here goes another story - what if I would decide to develop (here in Central Europe - why not?) software/services for this machines? I would like to get one for developement and stuff (those OS images for emulation are not suitable for Real World testing The Platform)?

For me not releasing it (even if it costs like 3x more) to general public is like creating a barrier - so kids in other countries will get this stuff. And me? Me not. I guess this laptop was intended to break the barriers - this situation - when it is not aviable for whole world creates a barrier.

Like come on - I would love to hack it and share what I did with other people.

tiny (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17583724)

guys, just created this account to tell you the thing is *tiny*. been playing with gen 1 for 3 weeks. you know the Simpsons episode where Homer gets so fat he can't press a single button on the telephone? That's not me. :) Yet if I type on the keyboard with my fingers so close they rub, my fingers are still too wide to fit on the keyboard. It truly is a keyboard for children. Maybe someone can post some photos next to a ruler. I've heard more than once "it's smaller than I thought". don't consider this a regular laptop. it's fun, trust me, but physically a very small unit.

Good! OLPC stops child abuse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17583740)

Congratulations to the OLPC foundation for recognizing the harm that letting adult men (potential child abusers) on the children's network could do. An adult man with a Children's Laptop could easily pretend to be another child and trace them physically over the mesh network, then impregnate them with his AIDS sperm. And this we cannot stand for. So kudos to the OLPC foundation for keeping these laptops away from predators.

fHuck3r (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17583780)

DrIven out by the

Argument for a conumser version (1)

astrashe (7452) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583894)

Don't we want one giant media commons, where everyone has basically the same access? Isn't similar equipment the best guarantee of that?

If all of the poor people in the world run one platform, and only poor people run it, aren't they more likely to use different file formats? And if that happens, won't it be harder for us to talk to each other?

I know we don't do much talking now, but I think that's a big problem, and one we should be trying to chip away at, and not reinforce.

Ill just buy one off some poor kid.. (0, Flamebait)

kop (122772) | more than 7 years ago | (#17584032)

I think some if these children will be happy to part with their laptop for a little money.
Watch for my ebay ad!
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