According to PCWorld, Matt Keller, OLPC's director of Europe, Middle East and Africa, we can expect to see the second-generation OLPC XO shipping in the first quarter of 2010. The expected price? $80. This price tag will include dual touch screens (no keyboard, except an integrated software keyboard on one of the screens), making for an enhanced e-book experience.
This announcement brings two things to mind. First of all, I'm really excited about this device. A cheap e-book reader with an easily-customized software keyboard to access multiple languages and innovative applications? What could be better, right?
Then, of course, I remember that the original XO was supposed to cost $100 and ship in the millions. Obviously, I'm not holding my breath. I do have to wonder, though, if OLPC might not be better of producing reference designs as Intel has done with the Classmate and allowing OEMs to handle customization and production of the final machines instead of contracting manufacturing. The early manufacturing and distribution experiences were pretty dismal.
Obviously an OEM has less incentive to drive down prices than a non-profit like OLPC, but OLPC is very good at innovating and pushing the envelope on design. Their expertise is not in getting product to market.
What do you think?