Earlier this month, OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte open sourced the hardware for the OLPC device, inviting manufacturers to use the technology developed for the device in their own laptops, and of course to build OLPCs themselves. Negroponte also believes the OLPC project can help make netbooks better. ZDNet talked to IDC, and they don’t think large OEMs will make use of OLPC’s offering.
Negroponte says there are three areas where OLPC technology can help improve netbooks. Low power computing (as in, lower than 2W), the ability to be repaired easily (ruggedness), as well as the screen technology to allow for reading in bright sunlight.
The goal behind open sourcing the design and making it available to others is so that they can start producing OLPC devices. IDC, however, doesn’t think this will take off all that much. They believe that while some white box vendors in the Asia-Pacific region may pick it up, the big OEMs won’t really dive into this – they are too focussed on netbooks.
ZDNet contacted HP, but they did not respond. They also contacted Dell, but they stated that the company does not believe in a “one-size-fits-all” approach, because user demand differs per region. Lenovo said it did not yet have enough information on OLPC’s offering in order to comment.
The OLPC project really kind of seems to be dying a very slow death. It gained some moderate success in Latin America, but in the Asia-Pacific and other regions demand is low, with those markets being served by netbooks instead. The OLPC project may simply have been a little too ambitious, but that doesn’t mean the project didn’t have a major impact: they kick-started the whole cheap laptop computing thing after all.