I have been interested in the $100 laptop since I first learned about the project in 2005. When the opportunity to purchase an XO (the name for the first version to ship) as part of a buy one / give one plan became available we made the commitment (Our XO ).
Of late, the grand plan seems to be growing confused. The price point has changed at least temporarily – the $100 laptop is now $200. Perhaps this is inflation, but it is more likely the inability to operate on the needed scale. I understand the buy one/ give one plan was an effort to increase the number of machines to be produced even if all of the machines did not go their target audience. The scale issue comes up in some other ways. Clearly, there is no longer a single plan and there may now be several vendors interested in offering a low price, educationally focused machine (Intel dispute with OLPD – New York Times; Intel quits one laptop per child). There is also the dispute regarding the operating system – UNIX vs/and Windows (Negroponte at CES is positive about eventual connection with Windows). It is even unclear if the OLPC agenda is now focused exclusively on other countries or has been modified to allow some U.S. schools to participate (Birmingham in deal to bring XO to students. (eSchool News)). This last issue is strange – if U.S. sales are to be part of the model, limiting access in any way seems a very bad idea. As a developer, I find it difficult to spend too much time with the machine exploring possibilities without the opportunity to field test ideas (meaning machines available in local schools). I can see no U.S. sales. I can see open U.S. sales. I don’t get a few projects here or there when the original model asked for buy in to support projects elsewhere.
I think competition is great. I think exploring competing educational models is great. I hope other agendas (power/visibility/control, profit, platform exclusivity) do not dilute and confuse the original goal. Let’s get some machines in the field and let other issues work themselves out based on what students are able to accomplish.
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