One laptop per child - even in US suburbs

Availability of cheap, open source laptop may challenge some business practices of PC makers, schools and government agencies.

As the One Laptop Per Child program (OLPC) moves into the developed world, software companies are jockeying for position in what could be the largest distribution of laptops to students ever, reports Linux Insider.

The OLPC program has long-term plans to sell a slightly higher-priced version of the cool machine in the U.S. and other developed markets. PC makers, private foundations, government agencies and others will have to tailor the OLPC software to meet the needs of a computer literate market.

"To be attractive and valuable to students who are already technology literate because of the new environment that they are growing up in, institutions must take advantage of capabilities offered by information technology," he said. "It goes beyond just having computers available to students," according to analyst Bill Rust.

The impact of an inexpensive laptop on the education market will be huge and that has PC makers very concerned about their established market share, said Brooke Partridge, CEO of Vital Wave Consulting.

"Developed-world manufacturers should not perceive this as a threat," she said. "This shift presents opportunities for traditional PC manufacturers."

Schools looking to invest in new technology are looking for reliability, flexibility and low-cost - and the OLPC just may be the answer.

"I believe that these laptops may provide a change. The big issue will be one of positive feedback. Will these new machines become affordable and ubiquitous? In the end, when we look at systems, we need to match with openness to change and the turnover in our workforce," said Brock Dubbels, a member of the Minneapolis Public School Technology Advisement Committee.