Citing unexpected demand (apparently on the order of $2 million dollars a day in sales), OLPC has announced an extension of its Give One Get One program through the end of the year. The $2 million/day figure equates to
5000 10,000 laptops per day, 2500 5000 (sorry, folks...This math teacher has been too absorbed with Runge-Kutta approximations lately and has apparently forgotten how to divide - Thanks for the correction, orcmid) of which will ship to the US and Canada. The other 2500 will make their way to children in developing nations (the G1G1 program requires that individuals purchase 2 laptops, one of which is donated to the program, the other of which goes to the purchaser).
I have to wonder, though, how many people in developed countries could benefit from these little devices? My review of the Intel Classmates certainly suggests a market for small, durable, portable PCs in a variety of settings. However, how many of the people in developed countries (but still sitting on the other side of the Digital Divide), can't swing $400 (plus almost $25 shipping)? While the reasons behind the G1G1 program were manifold, key among them was the need to generate sufficient production numbers to reach the economies of scale necessary to build a $200 laptop. Similarly, the program was designed to subsidize the program in other countries outside North America.
How about selling them, then for $225 a piece in a "JG1" (Just Get One) program? The premium paid ($25) over the true cost of the laptop could help subsidize the program, but would make the little green machines far more attainable for many in its target market (and thus drive up demand considerably). I've never been a fan of the OLPC program in terms of the very sketchy implementations we've seen outlined in other countries. However, there is no denying that the portable brings some interesting technology to the table, as well as a new interface that would certainly be worth a spin (if only OLPC would just send me one of these little guys).
At $225 a pop, I'd certainly get one for my youngest, who still fondly recalls the little purple and blue Classmates to which he was completely attached while I tested them. I might even be able to swing a grant or two for a classroom set in one of our elementary schools. Good cause or not, tax write-off or not, I just can't do it for over $400. My schools need donations; tax writeoffs don't mean much in public education.
All too often, I think we lose sight of the fact that there are a lot of kids in so-called developed nations who could benefit as much (or more) from inexpensive and revolutionary (I use that term somewhat loosely) computing devices as those in developing nations.