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Description: Take a look at the designs for what could someday be the world’s cheapest PC, and you may start to wish you were a third-grade child in Burundi.


Date: Jan 10 2012

One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), MIT professor Nicholas Negroponte’s non-profit effort aimed at putting cheap educational laptops into the hands of developing world schoolchildren, is working on an upgrade to its so-called XO computer, once known as the “hundred-dollar laptop.”

That revamped machine, known as the XO-3 and targeted for release in 2012, is still more of a pipe dream than a product. But early designs for the PC reveal a minimalist slate of touch-powered electronics that drops practically every feature of a traditional computer except its 8.5-by-11-inch screen, a scheme that would shed all of the first XO’s child-like clunkiness without losing its simple accessibility.     READ REST OF STORY

Questions for discussion:

  1. Do you think that OLPC strategy is viable?  Why or Why not?

2.  What were the major problems with the first iteration of OLPC?

16 Responses to “The $75 Future Computer”

  1. Brittney Rainforth

    I do think that OLPC’s strategy is viable. Although they may not hit their target market, they are still making an impact on the children in the third-world countries. Also, because there are so many children in the third-world nations there is a large potential for other companies to essentially copy OLPC’s idea but make a profit from it – therefore, creating more competition. Which in turn, will ultimately fulfill OLPC’s main goal, which is to have every child own a laptop.
    The major problems with OLPC’s first iteration were that they were continually under-estimating the value or worth of what their laptops were. They wanted to charge a maximum of $100, and instead had to charge $175. That is a very large price difference.

  2. Paige

    i believe it is a viable strategy. it will provide negroponte with a huge and presumably loyal market. it is also a wonderfully altruistic inspiration for creating low cost technology that deals with the drawbacks current computer owners deal with (dust, water, battery life, screen sharpness, etc). of course, the problems were and still continue to be real cost, encroaching competition, and most importantly, a lack of proactive buyers in developing country governments. these are significant. a solution may be to pursue nongovernmental buyers or even partnerships between local governments, businesses, and international aid or education organizations.

  3. Jeanine van Nierop

    I think that OLPC’s strategy is viable. There will of course be challenges along the way, but the objective is clear: to get a laptop in the hands of all children. In order to get there, I believe that Negroponte is using the right strategy by approaching other companies and using firms such as FuseProject to help them achieve that goal. If more companies get involved, the word will spread and more and more companies will want to help OLPC, causing bigger, more influential firms to ‘give’ their technology and ideas to OLPC.
    I think that the major problems with the first iteration is that OLPC was too optimistic. I think that the idea of giving every child a laptop was so exciting to Negroponte that he forgot about the actual process involved. Throughout the year, however, I believe that he is figuring it out.

  4. Lesley

    I think the strategy is viable. Its quite facinating that many of the children in third world countries can achieve so much more with a computer available and built just for them. Offering a laptop that addresses the climate issues and rough handling of children is an amazing idea. Negroponte needs to assess the prices issues it seems. If the laptops can be offered at low prices (wish he promises) then more organizations would be likely to aid in the funding for the higher educational advantages these laptops offer. With all of the computers components in line, it will succeed.

  5. Jay Retzlaff

    I believe that it is a viable strategy. The idea of having other companies coming and taking over the project to reduce cost is a great idea. This new idea for the laptop sounds pretty high tech and i don’t believe that he will hit the goal of $75 per laptop but he may be close. The first major problems with the first iteration of the laptop was that the price he wanted for the laptop was not even close to what it actually cost. Also competition arise from this idea which other companies jumped on. These companies took the dream away from the one laptop per child.

  6. Paige Magnussen

    I think that the OLPC goal is viable. I think that there goal is ambitious but if accomplished or even half accomplished could make a huge difference in third world countries. They are providing an opportunity for children in third world countries to learn on a PC like the rest of the world is doing. The features that have been added on the computer to meet the environmental conditions in third world countries are amazing. However the draw backs that I see when looking at OLPC business plan is that their expecting children to teach themselves how to use a computer. If the children can figure it out you then need to consider the amount that these children can read and write and actually use applications like the internet. Overall I think this is a good business with good intentions, it will allow other organizations to donate and buy computers for children that need it. I think as time goes on OLPC will work out all of their problems, and continue to educate other companies of their mission statement. By getting the word out about OLPC it can increase awareness for this cause, raise funds and help the company problem solve to produce the best product.

  7. Billy Abesdris

    This strategy is NOT AT ALL VIABLE. Burundi is one of the poorest places on the planet where average yearly income is few hundred usd. This money is spent on the absolute fundamentals for living. While this company is smart for trying to tap into new markets, there is such low demand for their product that nobody could afford or even want to go to Burundi electronics for a laptop. But it’s not being sold to them you might be screaming at me! They give them the laptops for free because it’s non profit blah blah donations blah. The golden rule you forgot from your first day of economics is THERE IS NO FREE LUNCH. This beautiful concept carries weight here as SOMEBODY must bare the cost of manufacturing, distributing, and developing these laptops. Consider the viability of giving every child $100USD. Could public donations amass hundreds of BILLIONS of dollars? The answer is obviously no and makes one wonder who will pay for every child to even have a cheap laptop. Even if this idea was not fundamentally flawed and they could somehow get HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS it could surely be better spent. Ask a starving Burundi youth if he wants to google stuff or eat a cheeseburger.

  8. Tim Anderson

    OLPC is viable for several reasons. It is up-to-date technology; it will be affordable to a billion new customers; increasing competition will push the limits of possibility.
    There is a market for a $75 laptop. This is confirmed not only by the customers enthusiastic response, but also by the entrance into the market of other technology companies.
    Nicholas Negroponte wants to operate outside of capitalism. I think this is a mistake. Of course competition would be fierce when there are potentially a billion new customers. The markets will eventually create an environment where a $75 laptop can become a reality. Mr Negroponte should get on-board.

  9. Andrew Kruschell

    I think the concept is noble and ingenuous but overall not very viable. Much coordination with governments and the people is required to fully implement this program and safely. There is too much injustice in most of these areas resulting in many of these computers ending up on some black market. Plus Mr. Negroponte’s constant halo polishing with words like totally Non-for-profit and philanthropic motives are pretty transparent since somebody has to be paying for all this technology and for all we know it costs the guy $25 to make the things. Finally, i think its way way way too early to be thinking about giving these kids laptops when their daily struggle is not being updated on celebrity gossip and downloading their favorite song, its about survival. I say solve that problem first and then we can talk

  10. Dennis Zhong

    I think the one laptop per child strategy is viable. Firstly, the cost of making a laptop is reducing every year, and if the organization can get the support from the local government, OLPC can be done. Secondly, one laptop per child strategy is targeting a very large portion of population in the world, and those children need this plan. Lastly, this plan is socially responsible for the world, so the local government, non-profit organization, corporation, local community, and media will support this plan.

    The negative side of one laptop per child, this plan is a new idea and long-term investment. The difficulty will be getting the investment and support, and making people believe in this strategy. Also more competitors will target this area.

  11. Sagrika

    I think OLPC is viable and thats because I believe that they might be able to achieve their mission. Even if they are not able to achieve it a 100%, they definitely can make a big difference around the world educating the young children with the help of these laptops. This will also give a moral ground to other organizations who might want to contribute in helping OLPC achieve their mission. This is not just about the children getting the education but also training the future of this world and this is a start of a good cause. This is also giving the children a chance to explore the new technology which has been created keeping in mind the climatic conditions, electricity outages problems in the third world countries. This is a smart technology working with the every day lifestyles of young children.
    I think the major problems with this plan is the price. If the prices are set too high for the children in the third world, they won’t be able to afford it and the major objective of OLPC which is to provide a laptop for every single child would remain unaccomplished.

  12. Trevor Armstrong

    OLPC is not a viable strategy, imo. You need to look no further than this quote: “When it comes to his plans for the $75 dream tablet, however, Negroponte admits his track record of lofty promises doesn’t offer much assurance that this latest fantasy machine will appear.”, taken from this article. Dr. Negroponte aims for the sky, when in reality, he should be reaching for more realistic goals. If there is a realistic market for a $75 tablet, you can bet that every major producer (Samsung, Sony, HP, Intel, etc) will want a piece of that market if a profit can be turned. These companies will be able to produce their tablets cheaper than OLPC, and thus undercut him. While I think it is honourable what Negroponte is attempting to do, OLPC is likely not viable in its current form.

  13. Nichelle

    Personally, I think that One Laptop Per Child’s strategy is viable. Of course with a strategy so large it will have to adapt to problems they may face but more importantly they are making the lives of less fortunate children more enjoyable, beneficial, and giving them the same opportunities of other children. Although it may be difficult to get these laptops into the hands of the children because some families may be unable to afford them, there are organizations designed to help with this issue. And even if every child doesn’t have one laptop at first – we are taught to share. Even having a couple laptops per class would be beneficial I feel.
    The first main problems dealing with the first iteration of the laptop was the fact it never reached it target selling price. It had a goal of 100 and was currently selling at 172. This is one factor that needs to get addressed, because if the laptop can’t be afforded then it’s not worth it. It almost seems as if they got too ahead of themselves and were not able to follow through. Now with the restructuring and determination of current and future problems, I think they are closing the space between target costs/results and actual costs/results.

  14. Dave B.

    The strategy itself is viable but whether it comes to fruition is a completely different story. The strategy is to create a minimalist computer that will be able to operate at optimal speeds in third world conditions for an affordable price. This is the part of the strategy that I find viable. Obviously it isn’t hard to create these types of computers as technology advances.

    The part of the strategy that falls short is the motto “OLPC”. This is a pretty unrealistic goal. A point brought up even in the video we watched in class was the fact that why a laptop and not fresh water system or food? I guess you could google how to make a fresh water irrigation system on your laptop (har har)

    The last part of the idea I liked was that this laptop would be available to the general public at sometime. The stipulation was that you would need to purchase at least 2. This would lead to the whole “pay it forward” idea and I think would add to the viability of the overall goal of this project.

  15. Rachael Brown

    OLPC’s strategy aims to provide inexpensive laptops to children in developing countries as an educational tool. At this point, MIT professor Nicholas Negroponte’s non-profit effort is unrealistic and not viable. Arguably, this is for a large variety of reasons, but mainly due to the fact that the target market cannot afford the laptop. These laptops are sold to governments and then issued to schools on the basis of “one laptop per child”. This is problematic because government in developing countries have large scale problems, such as satisfying basic human needs. In many cases for the government to spend money supplying laptops to children, who lack the most basic human necessities (i.e. food, clean water, shelter, clothing), seems ridiculous. In fact, government in developing countries could easily view the OLPC initiative as an insult because of the adverse conditions children face each day (i.e. starving and sick). Therefore, I believe that the OLPC’s strategy cannot be achieved until children in developing countries have had their basic needs met. Only when the basic needs of most children in developing nations are accomplished can the government can address wants, such as a laptop per child.

    Some of the main problems concerning the repetition of OLPC is that the technology required to introduce the product to market does not exist. As stated in the article, the goals are “more imagination than a road map”. In fact, the first OLPC released could not meet the promised $100 per laptop target retail. Other problems of the new model XO-3 revolve around Internet connectivity, theft, charging the laptop, learning curve, etc. Mainly, the first iteration of OLPC is still a concept in the works.

  16. Amber Dashney

    The Idea of the new “$75 computer” is a good idea, but with all the features OLPC wants to incorporate into it I don’t think it will be feasible to have it only cost $75 dollars. The IPad’s out there today which the OLPC is trying to mirror cost minimum $519.00 according to the Apple website. The Ipad also has the virtual keyboard, camera and thin design, which the OLPC also want as features of the $75 computer. Not to mention the rubber gasket and the wireless charging they hope to also have.
    The original cheap computer the OLPC planned on building was only supposed to cost $100, but it currently sells for $172. Also they had planned on upgrading the touch screen but based on costs it was not seen through. OLPC promised a lot more then what they could see through with the first cheap computer they designed which is causing investors and computer companies to be skeptical on their more improved, cheaper tablet

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