[LINK] One laptop per child goes for the tablet

Jan Whitaker jwhit at janwhitaker.com
Sat May 29 10:08:57 AEST 2010

One Laptop Per Child jumps on tablet bandwagon

May 28, 2010 - 4:50AM

The nonprofit organisation that has tried to produce a $100 laptop 
for children in the world's poorest places is throwing in the towel 
on that idea - and jumping on the tablet and Android bandwagos.

One Laptop Per Child's next computer will be based on chipmaker 
Marvell Technology Group's Moby tablet design. Marvell announced a 
prototype of the device this year and said it costs about US$99 ($116).

Nicholas Negroponte, founder of <http://www.laptop.org>One Laptop Per 
Child, is optimistic his organisation will be able to keep the price 
under $100 in part because Marvell plans to market its tablets widely 
to schools and health care institutions.

"We want to see the price drop, and volume is the key to that," 
Negroponte said.

The quirky green and white XO laptop sold by One Laptop Per Child 
(OLPC) to governments and organisations in countries such as 
Afghanistan and Uruguay wasn't destined for such a broad audience.

OLPC had to repeatedly scale back expectations for how many of the 
laptops it could produce, and it didn't get the price much below 
US$200, twice the price specified by the device's "$100 laptop" nickname.

In 2005, Negroponte envisioned having built 100 million laptops in 
about two years. Today, two million of the machines are in use.

The XO was also more expensive to produce than a tablet would be 
because of its many moving parts and features meant to withstand 
glaring sun, blowing sand and spotty access to electricity. In some 
cases, OLPC had to change the XO's design by region. For example, the 
physical keyboard had to be customised for students in countries that 
don't use a Latin alphabet. It would be less expensive to change the 
software behind touch-screen keyboards.

Marvell's co-founder, Weili Dai, said the company has also found ways 
to cut costs in the way it's designing the chips.

The new tablets will have at least one, and maybe two, video cameras. 
They'll sport Wi-Fi connections, multi-touch screens and have enough 
power to play high-definition and 3D video. Marvel hopes to make the 
screens 8.5 x 11 inches (21.6 x 28 centimeters), the size of a 
standard sheet of paper in the US. Unlike Apple's iPad tablet, the 
device will also work with plug-in peripherals such as mice.

Negroponte said he eventually wants the tablets to run some version 
of the free Linux PC operating software. But the first generation of 
the "XO 3.0" tablet will likely use Android, the mobile-device 
operating system from Google, or something similar.

Although his group worked with Microsoft to get its Windows operating 
system running on the XO laptops, Negroponte said the new tablets 
will not use Windows 7 because the software requires too much memory 
and computing power.

Negroponte said he plans to unveil the tablet device at the annual 
International Consumer Electronics Show in January.

The One Laptop Per Child project has its share of skeptics who have 
questioned the possibility of manufacturing a laptop for $100 and the 
point of providing computers to countries that lack basic infrastructure.

Even so, OLPC's work turned competitors' attention to the growing 
technology market in developing countries. Companies including Intel 
came up with their own designs for inexpensive laptops for kids, 
while other organisations figured out ways to turn regular desktop 
computers into multiple workstations, drastically cutting costs for 
school computer labs and internet cafes.

The scramble to produce inexpensive laptops for kids in developing 
countries also helped prime the pump for the recent flood of 
"netbooks," which are smaller, cheaper and less powerful than laptops.

Negroponte said the last few months have been a turning point for his group.

"People are no longer asking 'Does this work?'" Negroponte said. "The 
one question I hear all the time is, how do I pay for it? How do the 
economics work?"

This story was found at: 

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
jwhit at janwhitaker.com
blog: http://janwhitaker.com/jansblog/
business: http://www.janwhitaker.com

Our truest response to the irrationality of the world is to paint or 
sing or write, for only in such response do we find truth.
~Madeline L'Engle, writer

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