While we salivate at the idea of Christmas OLPC XO sales, other countries might not have the same One Laptop Per (Adult) Child dreams as your standard American geek. For example, China, an early OLPC dream gone sour, may still be ambivalent about XO technology if Shanghiist is right.
Starting off with the obvious need for cheap laptop options in a nation of rich coastal province, yet poor hinterlands where two hundred million people earn less than a dollar a day, Mathew Seigal goes on to list a familiar reason behind OLPC resistance:
We're totally behind the charitable aims of Negroponte's project, but we're not sure you can turn children into geniuses just by throwing computer equipment at them. If that was the case then UK state-run schools would be teaming with little Einsteins. The UK spent billions on IT investment before they started to realise that they had to retrain teachers and reinvent learning methods.He then goes on to list the many options that Chinese parents (and kids at heart) have in the affordable computing space. Options like:
Yellow Sheep River's MunicatorAs of this weekend, there is yet another cheap laptop competitor in the Chinese market - none other than Lenovo, arguably the original cheap Chinese PC computer manufacturer. The New York Times reports:
Why should China rely on American do gooders when they can build their own cheap laptops? Yellow Sheep River has come up with a spec for a $150 Chinese Linux laptop with a 40 GB hard drive. It has Chinese Godson chips that offer similar performance to Pentium III chips that were around in the late nineties. This device also plugs into televisions. Read more here.
We don't know much about this product except what we read on this website: The "Dream Dragon" computer, being developed as a joint venture by the Jiangsu Menglan Group and China's Institute of Computing Technology (ICT), is currently set to cost about US$131. It utilizes a line of low cost central processing units (CPUs) named "Loongson" being developed by the ICT and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Like the Classmate and XO-1, it runs on Linux, though it is aimed at low income and rural Chinese students. See: this Speroforum post.
Sinomanic is a Chinese branded laptop that will go on the market for $129 to $392.
Lenovo Group Ltd. said Friday it will sell a basic personal computer aimed at China's vast but poor rural market and priced as low as $199.So if China is awash in low-cost laptop options, is there room for an OLPC XO or even Intel's Classmate PC? After almost a year of living in China, I think so. For as Mathew concludes:
Lenovo's announcement follows rival Dell Inc.'s bid to boost its presence in China's booming market with the unveiling in March of a low-cost personal computer meant for novice Chinese users.
China may have 140 million Internet users, but it's going to take a few years and plenty of low cost initiatives to make communication technologies accessible to everyone in China.And what better communication technology than everyone's favorite "$100 laptop" even is its upwards of $280 per laptop to deploy?