Thursday, May 22, 2008

$100 Laptop 2.0 Revealed

I have gone thru many stages with the One-Laptop-Per-Child project: excitement, confidence, (I then bought one thru the Give-1-Get-1 program), denial, anger, depression, cynicism, and now finally acceptance that the whole thing is collapsing under the weight of Nicolas Negroponte's ego. What began as a high minded attempt to bring educational change to the world has degraded into an attempt to become the next big laptop maker. Between Negroponte's attempts to torpedo all other cheap laptops and the decision to switch to Windows XP (after having dismissed MacOS X as "not free enough"), I simply no longer have any excitement or interest in the project. I view its value as primarily having been in driving the low-cost laptop revolution exemplified by the Assus EeePCs.

But that being said, the OLPC organization has a very different opinion of itself (well, those who haven't quit), and has just released the conceptual design for the XO-2 or OLPC 2.0. The highlights are that they want to make it an eBook-type device with two touchscreens (sort of a like a Ninentdo DS). It'll be smaller, cheaper ($75 is the target price), and require less power (the goal is to make it powerable off a hand-crank, something removed from the final XO-1 design). It is due out in 2010.

Will the XO-2 thrive where the XO-1 has... well... stagnated? My guess today is "No." Especially with its major supporters leaving right and left. But you never know. Mr. Negroponte has plenty of nay-sayers the first time around who never thought he'd ship one OLPC. And he proved them wrong.

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