$100 Laptop (OLPC) Begins Marketing

The One Laptop Per Child project is beginning to market itself with a campaign dubbed “Give 1 Get 1“.

…on Sept. 24, the OLPC announced a money-raising gambit called “Give 1 Get 1.” Originally, the organization had no set plans to sell or distribute the computers in the U.S. Now it’s hoping to capitalize on widespread interest from American gadget fans to raise enough money to pay for shipments of XO Laptops to four countries that are among the poorest of the poor: Afghanistan, Cambodia, Haiti, and Rwanda.

Under Give 1 Get 1, which will run for two weeks starting Nov. 12, U.S. customers will be able to pay $399 to buy two laptops: one for themselves and one to be shipped to a child in one of those four countries. About half of the purchase price will be tax-deductible. Also, starting Sept. 24, people can simply “give” a laptop by making a $200 donation. Those who’d like to participate can sign up for e-mail alerts on the Web site www.XOgiving.org. The machines, which are being built in Taiwan, will begin shipping to U.S. customers in January or February.

This is actually really interesting. I’m sure a few of my friends will pick these up to hack and tinker with them.

OLPC Update: Intel and AMD Vying To Be The Chip Supplier For OLPC

Here’s the latest update on Negroponte’s One Laptop Per Child project (aka $100 laptop).

It may have once dismissed the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) Project as a “cheap gadget,” but Intel appears to have changed its mind. The company is now involved in talks to provide CPUs for the $100 (actually ~$175) systems.

According to the EETimes, Intel’s newfound interest in the project is just fine with the OLPC design team. “Intel, like a lot of other people, is more than welcome to try to design great silicon for this project and this mission, and we’ve been working with them to help them do exactly that,” said Walter Bender, OLPC’s president.

The article goes on to discuss how the OLPC is powered by an AMD chip but Intel plans to bid with a more powerful chip.

New York Times On The Digital Divide

Here’s a great article in the New York Times detailing the lack of internet infrastructure in Africa:

Attempts to bring affordable high-speed Internet service to the masses have made little headway on the continent. Less than 4 percent of Africa’s population is connected to the Web; most subscribers are in North African countries and the republic of South Africa.

A lack of infrastructure is the biggest problem. In many countries, communications networks were destroyed during years of civil conflict, and continuing political instability deters governments or companies from investing in new systems. E-mail messages and phone calls sent from some African countries have to be routed through Britain, or even the United States, increasing expenses and delivery times. About 75 percent of African Internet traffic is routed this way and costs African countries billions of extra dollars each year that they would not incur if their infrastructure was up to speed.

Link:Africa, Offline: Waiting for the Web.

$100 OLPC To Cost $175

Some updates on the One Laptop Per Child project hit the newswire last week. Negroponte, the leader of the project, announced how much his computers will cost.

The founder of the ambitious “$100 laptop” project, which plans to give inexpensive computers to schoolchildren in developing countries, revealed Thursday that the machine for now costs $175, and it will be able to run Windows in addition to its homegrown, open-source interface.

If you want to read something more thought provoking, here is a Forrester blog post on the computer, called the XO.

The XO laptop is designed for social computing. It is the social computer. One of the main apps is a screen that shows who else in the village is online — in fact, the whole system gets its Internet access from a mesh so that if one XO in the village can reach the net (presumably from a classroom or some other central location, often by satellite), the others can all reach it too through their own connections.

Also, on a unrelated but related note, check out this article in today’s NY Times about schools in the US dropping laptop programs because there was no evidence that it had a positive impact on student achievement.

Microsoft plans to offer a stripped-down version of Windows and Office for $3 to developing nations

Microsoft announced a plan to offer a stripped-down version of Windows and Office software for three dollars to people in developing nations as well as low income families within the United States:

The program, which is being announced in Beijing today by the Microsoft chairman, Bill Gates, represents an ambitious expansion of efforts to introduce products to those who have lacked access to personal computers, especially in developing nations.

But that’s not it!!

Microsoft has additional steps planned beyond the discounted software. For example, the company said that it would add 200 Microsoft Innovation Centers in 25 countries in the next two years. These centers — Microsoft already has 110 in 60 nations — train local people in software development and provide assistance in starting businesses.

Some economists argue that money is better spent on medicine and food for developing nations. However, I think the digital divide issue is easier to solve sooner than later so I’m very much for this and other programs like Negroponte’s One Laptop Per Child.

$100 Laptop (OLPC) Updates- Will Be Sold By Manufacturer In Developed Countries As Well

Latest update on the $100 Laptop–

Quanta, which is the Asian manufacturer making the $100 Laptops, has announced that it will be selling commercial versions of these $100 laptops for around $200 dollars in some parts of the developed world. They are going after the underprivileged markets in the developing world but I’m not sure how viable this market is, considering that cheap desktop machines can be had for about $300 these days.

Closing The Digital Divide With Portable Wifi

Here’s an innovative way that some people in India, Rwanda, Cambodia, and Paraguay are crossing the digital divide– by gaining online access through buses equipped with wifi which drive through several hard to reach villages a few times a day..

The buses and a fleet of motorcycles update their pages in cities before visiting the hard-to-reach communities. As well as offering popular pages, the United Villages project also allows users to request specific information.

So everytime the bus drives by the village, it updates the page requests for the users connecting to the wifi service.

For example, if there was no information about Britney Spears on the village computer, a fee could be paid to get hold of such information.

The bus would then go back to the city and communicate with an internet server.

EDIT: Just got word that United Villages raised a $2 million Series A round, which included Omidyar Network, Cambridge Light & Power Corp. and Gray Matters Capital Foundation

Google Supplies Software To African Nations

Google made headlines today by announcing a deal to supply the Google Apps software packages for free to Rwanda and Kenya. East Africa is a region that lags behind in technology and human development so it’s a place where a little help goes a long way.

Google Inc. has signed deals to supply software to students and government workers in two East African nations, in a bid to put them on the technical footing of more developed countries.