The $100 laptop...for sale to the public?

$100 laptop

Fancy a brand new hand-cranked laptop for a few hundred bucks? Well, it may just happen. It seems plans are afoot to offer the $100 laptop for sale to the general public, and not just the poor children of the world.

I'm sure you're all well aware of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project founded by Nicholas Negroponte. Along with a core of Media Lab veterans, and a wide range of exceptionally talented and dedicated people from academia, industry, the arts, business, and the open-source community, they have a singular aim. To provide children around the world with new opportunities to explore, experiment and express themselves.

They plan on doing this with the $100 Laptop, a hand-cranked marvel that offers stripped down technology to children in need for a fraction of the cost. However, in an article written by Darren Waters for the BBC, it seems as though the marketing folks at OLPC have another idea in mind to get more laptops to more children. And it might just work.

The idea is not new. Back in 2006 Mike Liveright, a digital charity supporter,was pushing the cause. He promised to purchase 1 laptop for $300 if 100,000 other people did the same. That way, 2 laptops were in actuality purchased for children at no cost to them, and Mike got his own laptop. Nice idea, but only around 4000 people signed up for the idea.

Now, the backers of OLPC are looking at the idea again, but in a much simpler form. It's basically a BUY ONE, GIVE ONE FREE idea. You purchase two of these $100 laptops, and give one away to a needy child. You keep the other one for yourself.

As far as performance goes, the $100 laptop is not going to match the power and speed of most laptops you can buy at your local Best Buy or Circuit City. The $100 laptop doesn't even come with a hard drive; it instead functions using memory cards. It does have video-conferencing and wireless built in though, and should not be underestimated as a powerful learning tool. And as a way of getting this vital technology to children who need it all over the world, it's a very worthy cause.

The first batch of laptops are due to go to children this summer, but it's possible that by 2008 a marketing plan will be in place that allows you to grab a $100 laptop of your own for the knockdown price of $200. And this is perhaps the only time on Wisebread that I'd ever promote paying double the sticker price for anything. After all, at the end of the day you get a laptop for the silly price of $200, and help a child in need get a better education, too. As far as I'm concerned, that's one heck of a bargain.

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Guest's picture

While looking at their site and wiki, I stumbled across this:

The OLPC project has no plans to do this. What a shame.

Paul Michael's picture

...the buy 2, get 1 free scheme was a failed idea. As you can see by looking at the very site you reference, Buy 1, Give 1 is a different idea that has no plans to be launched in 2007 but has not been discounted at all for 2008 and beyond. A direct quote from Negroponte sums this up..."Many commercial ventures have been considered and proposed that may surface in 2008 or beyond, one of which is 'buy 2 and get 1.' In addition, OLPC is launching OLPC Foundation later this month, specifically to accommodate the huge goodwill and charity that has surfaced around the idea of a $100 laptop."

There are NO plans to commercialise the $100 computer for retail sale, but no-one has ruled out the buy 1, give 1 idea. And the reason is simple. You're giving a needy child a free computer.


Paul Michael's picture

A follow-up from the reporter explains the article and also my own headline. I ask the question, will it be for sale to the public? and state that a marketing plan COULD be in place by 2008 to buy one. There is nothing untrue about any of this.