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.
“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.”
Well, let’s see…
(1) Low power computing: it’s important for users to have an excellent battery life but they also want horsepower. Atom is going dual-core, VIA C7-M is being seen as dead-slow, people waits for the nVidia ION, and so on.
Even if they don’t really need more power, if they can have more power they’ll go for it. Like forever in the computer market…
And of course, while people wants an excellent battery life, they are not lost in a country with no easy-to-find power outlet. Basically you have one at the very least at home… Low power computing is not vital, it’s just a good thing.
Users needing the most battery life will certainly opt for additional batteries or for extended capacity batteries instead of choosing a lower power computing device.
(2) Ruggedness and easilly repaired: yeah users would love that but do you really expect for OEM to provide it?
They’d rather sell products that breaks in two years tops so you have all the best reasons to buy another product.
(3) Reading in bright sunlight: here is the only thing that could actually be used in actual products! A lot of people complains about it, moaning “hell why can’t I get the OLPC display in my netbook!!!”
But the marketing goes the other way. Better selling a coloured and bright display than a B&W sunlight readable. That’s much more appealling…
But who knows? We’ll see what comes out of it.
Edited 2009-03-02 17:05 UTC