Friday, January 11, 2008

Why sell OLPC laptops only to Governments?


What is the original reasoning behind Nicholas Negroponte's One Laptop Per Child business plan. There is lots of discussion and criticism online, but where is the justification for the only-sell-to-soverign-nations business plan? Please tell me so I can update this post!

More and more, I am convinced by Fonly's arguments about timing, distribution, and (in)appropriateness in different regions within single countries. (Power supply problems seem quite solvable.)

I purchased an OLPC laptop, and it works great. It's so convenient that AyJy and I prefer it for checking our email. It's a new keyboard format and doesn't play videos yet, but we don't need that. I'm looking forward to learning to program Python on long airplane trips.

However, I can't understand the only-sell-to-governments business model. As far as I can see, it would work better to sell in 30-computer batches, to anyone who wants to buy.

It feels to me that product development and troubleshooting could be done by the traditional early adopters: rich people. After selling batches to counties all over the USA, Europe, etc., with prices down and software polished, then market it to the developing world.

Please explain why I'm wrong... but it seems by not following this business model, Negroponte is weakening the project, as well as handing a huge portion of the world market for Linux back to Microsoft. What am I missing?

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