Double trouble with one laptop per child

Posted on January 5, 2008  /  9 Comments

When Chief Technology Officer of one laptop per child (OLPC) anounced quitting on the New Year’s Eve – future of this project faced question. Four days later OLPC’s one of the major technology partner, Intel, also walked out of this charity. And now the crisis deepens furthermore.


  1. Whether we like it or not, at the end of the day it is the free market economy that rules the world. There is nothing much one can do without being prepared for this reality.

  2. Well who wants to work for a company when this kind of nonsense is going on …

    “Remember that Nigerian company headed by a convicted felon that sued the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project for patent infringement? Well, the suit has finally been brought…in a Nigerian court…with $20 million in damages on the table.

  3. If it’s the free market that rule the world, we wouldn’t have to pay $2700 for a $1800 laptop in Sri Lanka.

    If it’s the free market that rule the world, then we’d be responsible for our own actions. The world is far too conservative to take responsibility in self imposed poverty, global warming and …everything.

  4. Ranga,

    I didn’t say free market ruling the world is right. There should be concessions for the third world or economically disadvantaged countries. But do we have many options left? Have a look at the price hikes on the day today stuff, let alone the IT related equipment? What choice do we have there?

    Coming back to “pay $2700 for a $1800” I personally had problems with a laptop bought from USA. International warranty seems an illusion when it comes to go for repairs. I had to wait a whole year to get the laptop repaired by a leading company and it came back to me without being repaired. I got a “bonus” of losing the power code too at the repairer’s, which I had to buy elsewhere by spending few more thousands!!!!!!

    Supply chains here are still in very primitive stages. Even talking about this is useless.

    I do understand your point. Perhaps I haven’t answered them in my reply correctly. I too do not understand the pricing blunders. Perhaps someone else who is running IT hardware business can enlighten us on this.

  5. OLPC is a good example for a ‘solution’ devised for a non existence problem by people who might understand technology but know nothing about how things happen at the grassroots. (not unlike our own e-Sri Lanka)

    Craig Barrett correctly said what the students want is not gadgets like this but fully pledged PCs. They will not be interested in this type of gadgets while the city boys and girls spend hours and hours in front of PCs playing computer games. So if you can give them PCs, if not don’t give them anything at all. Giving gadgets to them is of no use.

    I do not why those who know nothing about poor continue to design stupid ‘solutions’ like this.

  6. ICTA should purchase these laptops for its staffers. They are ideal to do the kid stuff ICTA does usually.

  7. One can buy a laptop in Colombo for less than US$1000 brand new like Toshiba or HP also second hand for US$ 400 – 600 (from Japan, first hand use less than 1 year, or minor defect) … all this because of the free market.

    “A day after learning that Intel was abandoning his project over “philosophical” differences, the laptop group’s founder, Nicholas Negroponte, said Intel’s sales representatives had been disparaging One Laptop Per Child as they pushed Intel’s sub-$300 Classmate PCs.”

    I had the opportunity to test the Classmate PC at GK3 in KL it is cool. But we have to give the credit to Nicholas Negroponte for starting this revolution. The same revolution happened with hand held mobile phones, what was once designed for the elite is now seen more profitable marketing at the BOP; i.e. targeting the next billion.

  8. Nuwan,

    You say:


    But we have to give the credit to Nicholas Negroponte for starting this revolution. The same revolution happened with hand held mobile phones, what was once designed for the elite is now seen more profitable marketing at the BOP


    Mind you, in case of mobile phones the sub $ 30-40 models are NOT cut down versions. They were the same fully pledged models which were sold initially for $ 100 and above.

    On the other hand, OLPC is a badly cut down version. It is worse than even a 386 or some of the mobile phones in the market today. It is NOT a PC. Calling it a PC is an insult. It is a gadget as Craig Barrett rightly said.

    Designing new products for the poor is fine but that does not mean you can cut down the basic functionality to make them affordable. After all, somebody needs to use them.

    Nicholas Negroponte did no revolution. He is only a toy manufacturer who built something kids did not like. He should have known better. How dumb one can be to expect third world governments to purchase these gadgets in millions?

    Car manufacturers never market models for the ‘poor’. They aim rich, but with time the prices fail and after sometime poor too may be able to afford them in secondhand. If not, the poor use public transport (shared mode). These are the only models that we can think of.

  9. I had the opportunity of using both OLPC and Intel ClassMate laptops. The latter was at Srikanth’s Nenasala at Koslanda. Well, ClassMate runs Windows XP and looks promising. I could not use both versions for longer hours to have a comprehensive feedback though. People say OLPC is for creative kids. I wish I could use both versions for longer hours for a better comparison/contrast.