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OLPC announces laptop sales strategy shift

Posted: 26 Sep 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:OLPC? strategy shift? XO laptop sales?

The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative this week is expected to announce a program starting Nov. 12 that will allow U.S. and Canadian consumers to purchase two of the organization's XO laptops, one for themselves and one that will be delivered to a child in a developing nation.

The organization, which has been working on the $100 computer for schoolchildren initiative in developing countries for several years, was founded by Nicholas Negroponte of the MIT. It announced mass production of its XO laptop in July.

The cost of the package will be $399, and the scheme will run for just two weeks.

The sales strategy is a direct contradiction to a statement made in January this year, when the OPLC group said it had "no plans to make the laptop to the general public".

However, many consider the move to sell the laptop in developed countries would represent an important catalyst for the project. The donations of wealthy consumers in the West could help lower the costs of machines destined for poorer countries, and get publicity for the initiative.

The real cost of sourcing the components for and manufacturing the XO laptop is believed to be about $185, and about 40,000 units are expected to be available at launch, with production doubling or even trebling in subsequent months depending on demand.

The XO laptop is based around an AMD Geode LX-700 CPU and has a 7.5-inch LCD display, two USB ports, an SD memory card slot and Wi-Fi, and comes in a "hard" case.

Other groups are also readying cheap laptops and targeting developing countries. For example Taiwan company Asustek earlier this year said its "eee" model would be available later this year and cost about $200, and Intel said its Classmate PC would also be targeting the sector.

- John Walko
EE Times Europe

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