UCA Brazil Auction for Classmate PC - Canceled!

   
   
   
   
   
classmate pc olpc xo
No Classmate PC vs OLPC XO?
Last Friday the Brazilian Government nullified the December laptop bidding that was partially won by Positivo Informática with the Classmate PC laptop, alleging the final US$360 per unit price was too expensive.

Although it never published what was the reference price it expected, some government officials have compared to the US$199 Uruguay paid for each XO Laptop unit. SIMM, the company with the exclusive distribution of the OLPC in Brazil had offered the XO for US$387 a price that David Cavallo said it was the minimum they could offer at those conditions.

And the auction conditions were in fact very different from Uruguay so the price comparison is almost unfair. For one, Uruguay centralized all shipping to one location and distribution would be done by the government.

In the Brazilian case laptops were to be shipped to different states in almost continental sized country, including some Amazon states that are only reachable by air or river. Other key differences go in the three year warranty that the Lula Government asked and finally the import tax breaks that were promised but never delivered.

At the moment the future of the Um Computador por Aluno (One Computer per Student, in Portuguese) laptops is uncertain. Brazilian Newspaper Folha speculates that the next bidding might have fewer requirements, ask for fewer laptops or finally increase the allotted money.

In the last month, the OLPC Brazil community hasn't stopped analyzing the meaning of the Classmate partial win of the now-cancelled bid. Some highlights:

olpc for everyone
She still has XO hope
  • Although many have accused Intel of dumping the price of the classmate to win over the XO, this possibility found more ground in the hearts of the conspiracy theory believers than in the math of any rabid OLPC defender.The lower price by Positivo was achieved by more clever business tactics, knowing the Brazilian tax reality and doing local assembly. Positivo responded by saying that they are ready to get the price down to US$300 if some tax-breaks apply.
  • An interesting fact has emerged: when adding all the 4,000 hours the laptops are expected to be used, each XO laptop is expected to consume US$45 dollars worth of energy, while the more power hungry Classmate would consume US$90. It's a small difference but in such a tight race, 45 dollars can tip TCO calculations to the other side.
  • Before the auction took place every hardware manufacturer was complaining for some requirement that should or should not be, which of course always coincided with something that their own product would have. One of the most intriguing was a complaint by the Telecomm industry on the requirement of Mesh Networking. The fact is that some Cell phone carriers were willing to offer phones as tools to bridge the digital gap. On a pay per minute basis, of course.
  • The most expensive offer was done by no one other than Sony. This Japanese company was willing to equip every Brazilian student with a feature- full Sony Vaio for the modest fee of over 1 billion US dollars.
In related news, the teacher Léa Fagundes, responsible for the Brazil pilot project was just awarded a Unesco Prize for her works on technologies in education. The award was given (along with another for the singer, songwriter and Brazil's minister of culture Gilberto Gil) in a special event held to celebrate Unesco's 60 year anniversary..

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11 Comments

"Although many have accused Intel of dumping the price of the classmate to win over the XO,"

Has anyone ever done a cost analysis of the classmate -- components, assembly, etc -- to see if it really is being sold below cost? It would be good to know if it in fact is, since Intel couldn't offer subsidies if it were to start selling in the millions, so the price would have to rise, and that would be a selling point in favor of the XO. So does anyone know what is the real price of the classmate?

Has anyone ever seen the version of the Classmate that's purported to have mesh networking?

If that version of the Classmate is either vaporware or "not ready for prime time", that could have dealt a blow to their hopes of actually winning this auction.

Which, if that means the XO gets another opportunity to compete in a revamped auction, is fine by me.

Did OLPC fix the mesh problem in Mongolia? That crashed the first time they tried to use it.

True... however, even a mesh that worked fine under previous test and real-life conditions, but encountered problems in the Mongolia deployment, is a step ahead of a non-existent mesh.

I've looked around the internet for any report of a demo or a reviewer using the second-gen Classmate with mesh. I haven't found any firsthand accounts declaring that the device has actually been sighted, never mind tested by a reviewer or demonstrated to an audience. Which makes me wonder if the auction competitor offering classmates wasn't just saying, 'Yeah, mesh, we can do that. We're working on it. If you give us the contract, we'll have mesh for you."

I'm interested in a progress report on the Mongolia deployment and its mesh issues, too, btw. But if there's one thing the OLPC people CAN do, it's create and refine hardware. Never mind all the G1G1 delivery snafus, never mind whether any one of us likes NickNeg's personal MO or not. The fact remains that the OLPC *hardware* people hit a home run with a ruggedized, inexpensive, sunlight-readable portable laptop when the rest of the world laughed in their faces and said it'd never be possible. These are the people who got the XO into existence in the first place, and I expect them to refine it as needed when issues like the Mongolia mesh problems crop up.

The meshing is pretty darn cool, btw... we have had a couple of users-group meetings in Philadelphia, and it's fascinating to have the XOs talk to each other, and be able to share activities with them, even when not everyone has connected to the internet yet.

After asking around the conclusion I got is that mesh network is theorically possible under many OS, including ubuntu and red hat. But because no one actually implements those, it's rare to see them in the wild.

Remember that all those machines some standard flavor of linux, and those have many ready made applications. Any company can state that their machine has "mesh networking" by googling some "mesh networking app" and throwing it on their bundle. Of course reality - as OLPC can attest even after testing it's own mesh technology extensively - is a bit harder...

"Although many have accused Intel of dumping the price of the classmate to win over the XO, this possibility found more ground in the hearts of the conspiracy theory believers than in the math of any rabid OLPC defender.The lower price by Positivo was achieved by more clever business tactics
..."

Unless the actual figures for Classmate PC, like in case of OLPC XO, are known all this is just a speculation - both by those who suspect Intel of product dumping as well as those who don't...

"After asking around the conclusion I got is that mesh network is theorically possible under many OS, including ubuntu and red hat."
alexandre,

Yes, "theoriticaly". You also need, first of all, the hardware platform which supports it and the actual applications which can use it. Once people start 'getting' what's the idea behind mesh networking is the OLPC's decisions on Sugar design and in-build collaboration features in the applications will start making more sense to them.

As 'Bud the Teacher'[2] has said in his podcast on collaborative features of XO: "Windows doesn't do I want kids to do"... :

Bud the Teacher ( Bud Hunt)
( http://www.budtheteacher.com/podcasts/budtheteacher/Bud010408.mp3 )

"Although many have accused Intel of dumping the price of the classmate to win over the XO, this possibility found more ground in the hearts of the conspiracy theory believers than in the math of any rabid OLPC defender."

While still waiting for the "math" details here are the latest news from Europe - somehow it sounds familiar... :

ABC News - "EU competition watchdog raids Intel" 13/02/2008,
( http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/02/13/2161152.htm?section=justin )

"
The world's biggest computer chipmaker, Intel, has been raided by European Union competition regulators amid claims it abused its market position.

Intel has been accused of selling its products below cost price and making cash payments to customers.

The investigation started after a complaint from Intel's smaller rival AMD.

It accused the world's largest chipmaker of giving rebates to customers provided they bought Intel products and offering incentives to companies to delay or cancel products containing AMD technology."


Hello Seller,

I am mr Alen,I am highly intrested in your item and i want to buy this type of item for my Son,And i just come across your item and am happy to meet this type of the item,am goning to offer you ( €1,200.00 ) so am highly interested in your item which i want to buy for my Son in Nigeria,i want you to let me know the item cost plus the shipment charge Via Ems speed post,and also am want to pay the money Via Bank to Bank Transfer so get back to me with your full bank details

such as this below:

Account Holder Name:
Account Number:
Bank Name:
Bank Address:
Item Name:
Swift Code:
Item Cost + Shipment Cost Via DHL/Ems:

Once again i want you to get back to me with you full bank
details for me to pay for the item immediately and
i will be waiting to
read your mail with the condition of the item as soon as possible.

Thanks & GOD Bless You,

Hello!

OK, €1,200.00 which is more than $1,800 for the OLPC XO computer sent to Nigeria, plus the seller must give their bank information.

Account Holder Name:
Account Number:
Bank Name:
Bank Address:

Definitely, God does not bless this person enough. He wants your bank account's assets!

Hello!

I'm sorry!

If you send €1,200.00 via Western Union to me, I will sell you my OLPC XO and even include Free shipping to Nigeria!

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