Linked by David Adams on Tue 4th Dec 2007 19:27 UTC, submitted by MissinBeOS
Hardware, Embedded Systems From the WSJ: "The dream of cheap computers in the hands of millions of poor children is becoming a reality, though not exactly as its proponents imagined. For-profit competitors snatched the idea and have run with it."
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1: Some posters seem to think poor countries don't need laptops (or at least it is not critical to them). The PC is one of the most flexible tools humanity has created. Wouldn't providing greater access to this tool LIKELY produce some tangible benefits. Additionally, Intel, Asus and Microsoft seem to think there is enough demand to create solutions for exactly this segment. That seems to indicate a demand for PCs for this segment.

No, it's not a question of poor countries needing laptops. They do. But they also need a lot of other things; most notably, they need competent leadership from people who won't constantly squander their resources on conflict and corruption.

2: There is likely little fairness to the Intel/Windows offerings. Microsoft selling a version of Windows/Office for $3 is selling it at a loss in an apparent means to drive out competition / gain market share. This is illegal in many countries and in the long run will likely reduce the availability of technology solutions to this segment

Oh, puh-lease. Windows is competing against a FREE alternative. Criticizing MS for reducing its price to make it competitive is just ridiculous, quite frankly.

3. There is a perception the cost has skyrocketed. It did not hit it's mark but missed by less than 15% when measured in Polish Zloty and Euro (2 currencies I am familiar with both now and then). The remaining price increase is caused by the weakened dollar. Had this been the 120 Euro ($100 equivalent when it started) laptop it would be much closer to hitting it's target than being the $100 dollar laptop.

If these countries currencies are indexed against the dollar, perhaps the Europeans will help subsidize them. But I'm guessing that that's not going to happen.

4. Some posters have serious concerns about maintenance and support i.e. long term sustainability. It seems to me using a base of open source software and hardware with freely available specifications will give a better long term (5+ years) solution for the money than relying on Microsoft and Intel for support. Both companies charge a significant amount in the local currency for support whereas even a fairly small amount of local talent, that can learn to support their machines online, would provide much more cost efficient support.

Somebody has to support these people, and it isn't going to come out of thin air. Why do you suppose that companies purchase support agreements, when they could theoretically depend upon the open source community? Answer: Because the open source community is not necessarily responsive to THEIR ISSUES. The same holds true of the Third World. Depending on charity to provide support is idealistic and great, in theory, but it won't work in the real world. If one of these kids can't get his notebook running due to some combination of software/hardware and the FOSS community isn't going to help him, then who does he turn to?

5. A poster suggested regional computing centers which likely already exist in some fashion (internet cafe's, schools, etc). This solution will also likely give decent returns, however, due to the accessibility to computing resources and controls on "playing" with the technology those returns will probably be much smaller and slower than the OLPC approach.

The laptops are going to be resold, they're going to break, and nobody will know how to support them. That's the reality.

The development of this culture will be MUCH quicker if the choice is open source and fully specified hardware.

There's no evidence of that at all. That's pure speculation.

I believe Microsoft and Intel realize that development of a culture that demands open source and detailed tech specs will decrease their profits. Their near monopolies in these segments are necessary to maintain the high profits. This is probably why they strongly compete with OLPC in the developing countries OLPC is most active in.

You say that as if there were something wrong with profit.

Reply Parent Score: -1

rafial Member since:

You say that as if there were something wrong with profit.

I hear you can make a pretty good profit killing people for money.

Reply Parent Score: 1

tomcat Member since:

I hear you can make a pretty good profit killing people for money.

The issue was profit, not how you earn it. And don't even try to equate selling software with killing people.

Reply Parent Score: -1