Ars Technica is reporting on OLPC's latest efforts to jumpstart large-scale production of its XO laptops. While their "Give 1 Get 1" campaign has received some attention in the blogosphere, ongoing difficulties for the group in terms of reaching a critical mass of orders to begin production at the $188/laptop cost have led to a new strategy. OLPC is now seeking generous donors to purchase large numbers of laptops at a premium price to send to developing countries.
According to laptopfoundation.org, there are "Many ways to give," following a tiered system in which donors pay less per laptop as they purchase more:
Wow, 10,000 laptops at $200 a pop. Wait, let me get out my calculator since nobody's funding domestic math/science education very well. That's $2,000,000! Let me get out my checkbook!
It appears that this is also being used as a mechanism for allowing schools and organizations to order the laptops directly without waiting for government funding. When this was announced via OLPCs listservs, it led to some interesting questions:
We are happy to hear that the laptops can be ordered. However, we believe the price is a little too high for our parents. It is true that some parts of India are wealthy but our parents are not so wealthy.
How are the beneficiaries of the give-one-get-one program selected?
Another poster wrote:
* Cost o Does it change on even larger numbers? o Has the actual landed cost been figured out? o Does it include customs/taxes etc. ? o Does it include shipping to the designated place? o Does it include insurance right until it reaches the child? * Being the best possible solution: o Are there any authentic reports comparing the XO with intel's classmate pc? o Or other announced devices like Asus EEE (if they count, that is). * Deployment: o School servers: + What software is going to be available? + What operating systems etc? + Any content? + Would we need to hire system administrators for the servers? o Network: + Does RDAG provide any bandwidth cost estimates yet? + Would there be other providers partnering with the laptop foundation? o Support: + Hardware: # Warranty: * What would the warranty time period be? * Where to take a broken machine? As in, would there be local hardware repair of some form? * What are the exclusions from the warranty? # Insurance: * Are some insurance plans/partnerships being worked out to take care of the exclusions? + Software: # Would we need to hire sysadmins, or the reset button is just fine? # What if we want this package or that installed on the 100/1000/10000 machines that we request? o Training: + I know children would learn on their own. + Any training need for the teachers? :) + Any likely providers?
My favorite line from the poster's excellent questions was "Would we need to hire sysadmins, or the reset button is just fine?" The response to that series of questions from OLPC India was
Thanks for compiling a good list of questions.
We will get back to you soon.
I'm glad I'm not the only one with serious unanswered questions about this program.