The New York Times ran a story today by Brad Stone and Ashley Vance called "$200 Laptops Break a Business Model," but the article forgets to mention one of the most enormous influences on this trend: the amazing innovations of One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), my former client.
They mention other disruptive technologies that are pushing down tech costs: virtualization, cloud computing, open source software, and even the Asus Eee PC laptop. But no OLPC.
It's a glaring omission, especially since you can argue quite convincingly that there would be no such thing as the $200 Asus netbook without OLPC. The story even includes this quote:
"The day of the Rolls-Royce laptop and the high-end computer may not be totally over," said Charles King, an independent technology industry analyst in Hayward. Calif. "But certainly the audience for that type of product is getting smaller and smaller."
Smaller because OLPC proved to the world that an inexpensive laptops could be durable, reliability and innovative (who doesn't want OLPC's daylight readable screen or low-energy capabilities?). OLPC created the market for low-cost laptops and forced for-profit manufacturers to begin offering stripped-down computers in reaction to the green-and-white XO laptop.
It's trendy now to criticize the program, but there's really no argument that OLPC blazed the trail for low-cost laptops. It's been one the biggest achievements of the organization. They deserve credit for that and OLPC should have been mentioned prominently in the New York Times article.