Hardware suppliers have been given the green light to ramp-up production of all of the components needed to build millions of the low-cost machines. Previously, the organisation behind the scheme said that it required orders for 3m laptops to make production viable.The BBC article hedges on two points - the magnitude of the order and who's buying. It hints at the 3 million number, but previous statements are not solid numbers, as we've bounced around 5 and 10 million laptop order numbers not that long ago. Reuters via eWeek coverage provides a more solid number and more insight into the need for the commercial market to buoy the development market:
Foundation executives have previously said that they didn't intend to commercialize the product this year as they wanted to focus their energy on serving the educational market in developing countries.I thought the goal was to maximize the global education revolution, not "units shipped"? Regardless, that "previously" word appears again, but we get a solid statement (at least, after Reuters revised the article) of the 3 million unit number. This doesn't seem to be meshing with the reality experienced by Quanta's upstream parts providers, indicating that the initial production run may be one million (or fewer!) units. Steve Shen in digitimes (login may be required) reports on Quanta's orders for the third-party parts needed for the OLPC (emphasis mine):
But now they are evaluating whether it makes sense to quickly move into the commercial market, using profits from those sales toward the cost of making laptops for poor children, Jepsen said.
"Our whole goal is to maximize the number of units shipped," she said. She talked about plans for commercializing the product on Monday as the foundation said it has formally authorized mass production of the device to begin in October, with an original order of some 3 million machines.
Shipment targets of OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) notebooks from Quanta Computer and the Eee ultra-low-cost notebooks from Asustek Computer for this year could both be revised downward, with Quanta likely to ship less than one million OLPCs, and Asustek only delivering 200,000-300,000 Eee PCs for all of 2007, according to a Chinese-language Commercial Times report.With potentially only one million laptops on the table, how will the distribution among the countries fall out? This is the second dodge the BBC fails to get specific on. Their article mentions more than once that "The organisation has not said which countries have bought the first machines," despite a pretty clear mapof which countries are currently lined up for ... piloting:
Quanta has begun placing orders for needed parts and components with downstream suppliers but with the ordered quantities falling far short of expectations
GreenHowever, official OLPC announcements from governments are limited and noncommittal, nothing more solid than Libya's MOU, which has already been scaled back. Argentina, Brazil, Nigeria, Rwanda and Uruguay have all stated intentions to have OLPC projects.
those countries we plan to pilot:
Argentina, Brazil, Ethiopia, Libya, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Thailand, Uruguay & USA
(from the OLPC Wiki Map)
If the 1 million unit number is accurate, obviously no country went for the original minimum 1 million unit order, and only 4 out of the 6 most likely countries could be involved if they each were taking the most recent 250,000 unit minimum. One wonders if these and the other green/interested countries are planning actual pilot programs with initial orders under the 250,000 minimum? That would truly be an
Christmas implementation miracle.