India to Attempt $10 Laptop Per Child

   
   
   
   
   

In what seems to be a moment of hubris, the Indian Human Resource Development Ministry, the Indian Institute of Technology and the Indian Institute of Science met last week to devise a roadmap for a direct challenge to the One Laptop Per Child program - an Rs 450 ($10) laptop.

That's right, $10. Or $128 dollars less than the One Laptop Per Child's 2B1 Children's Machine continuously revised price point of $100 $138 dollar per laptop. Regardless, the OLPC 2B1 is still the leading realistic low-cost option for at least it has a working prototype screen, developer boards, and software.


Dr. Jhunjhunwala

This announcement from India has none, and even less information about the features of such a cheap computer than Negroponte's string power generators. Outside The Times of India editorial endorsement this seems mainly to be a bureaucratic follow-up on a promise made by Ashok Jhunjhunwala, Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai, to develop a cheaper but equally advanced computer for India's students.

Or to quote the original The Times of India story:

One official who attended the meeting said: " No one had any doubt about the feasibility of the project. Everyone is enthusiastic and wants a quick rollout. But we have given ourselves three years before the first $10 laptop comes out."
That would be three years of thinking and pontificating, while in three years, the laptop will be a real option with a price projected to be between the fabled $100 dollars per laptop and a price point promise of $50 in 2010.

By then, maybe the Indian government will have forgotten the OLPC rejection backstory and deemed the laptops pedagogically correct.

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15 Comments

$10...

Sure the price of CPU's comes down.. but other parts of the system are less dynamic.

I could imagine a Tandy model 100 rebuilt for $10 but nothing with any level of graphical ability.

In the classic price spread of parts, you would need $2 for memory. Even with two Moore's cycles you can't buy enough memory for a machine for $8 today)

I just don't see this as workable if he can't explain where he see that he will get his cost savings.

He would have to see prices drops in every part of the system. Cases , power supplies, keyboards, flash memory ports, screens, and so on just don't drop to his levels.

The only known hope is to take a piece of glass and paint the entire computer as one assymbly with conductive paints using an inkjet. I know a company that was thinking about printing computers on camera film. That might do it.

If he has some other great idea, he should share it with all of us to help all computers come down in price!

BTW I am looking for work. If you like the way I think and have a project, write me at Braxton -at - aol.com.

India says they want to build a 10$ laptop in three years. Well Negroponte says the OLPC will cost 50$ by 2010, so the Indian project is 40$ cheaper.

But basically, it's just about Indian government being arrogant. Instead of agreeing to work with worldwide OLPC efforts, they prefer to critisize OLPC, support Intel and Microsoft and say they can do better and cheaper by themselves.

It'll take a few months and I am sure the Indians will come back on their decision, they will say they are sorry to have reacted that way to OLPC. This is definately a dirty trick by Intel who's afraid of loosing to cheaper Linux and AMD systems.

10 dollars? i wonder how a machine of that capability will help a child..

Since Charbax brings up arrogance, I think it is very arrogant for the OLPC project to claim they know what countries like India needs. This project sounds like yet another grand, top-down development scheme coming from the West that will "save" the developing world.

While not especially successful, I think that the Simputer is a much more interesting idea that came out of India itself.

I think we can cite the classic saying here "Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, he'll eat for the rest of his life." Instead of handing out these OLPCs, we should be offering our expertise to help local people build computers that suit their situations best.

Back in 2001 a new company called Rolltronics was planning to develop a $15 Laptop in three to five years. It didn't happen and they focused on much smaller projects (mainly non volatil memory related) but I think it is just a matter of time before somebody gets there.

I can't seem to reach their site but here is an article Bob Cringely wrote back then about their effort:

http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/2001/pulpit_20010118_000678.html

I think the government of India and the Indian Institutes should think of helping the children now rather than three years from now.

In 3 years, if they can indeed develop a $10 computer then the market situation will govern if it is even useful. I dont think the agencies/government should depend on a promise without a delivery mechanism that is useful now. 3 years is a long time for the life of a child.

This is another scheme for members in the government and Indian Institutes to siphon out monies for programs that are useless and go in the way of the programs that are useless in the short term, perennial and harmful in the long term. Examples include research for electronic equipment for Light Combat Aircraft(HAL), reservation policies at IITs, increasing capacities of IITs without adequate infrastructure or funding, or even simply increasing the number of IITs and diluting any brand name associated with it.

The country had globalized/liberalized but the government and its institutions remain socialist, obsolete and ineffective.

Mr Shriram > India's rural children need primary education and basic facilities. In that light, three years is not too long before they come upto the level when they can benefit from OLPC/indian laptops. that kills the sense of urgency in your argument.

just because something hasnt been done in past, does not mean it cant be done.. similar doubts were raised for OLPC as well.
and simputer is a reality today. read about it first.

I dont know what nonsense are you talking about.. blabbering about HAL, reservations, etc.
Thats holy crap.

Brand dilution? WTF. you dont dilute brands like that. sounds like some housewife is talking about brand dilution of a detergent. go get some education before scribbling comments on the damn internet.

I don't know how will india survive in this competition with olpc and especially Intel and microsoft, who already have shown their influence their. $47 is projected as a new cost now, but no news about functionality, and any prototype have been shown anywhere (maybe it is a new version of simputer), concept seems something else than just a laptop.

Maybe it is proprietary and showing early design may attract threat to their design and code , which itself seems ridiculous . If india is to make such laptop then, they should go open and attract all experts and critics or even open a chip production lineup, so not to depend upon intel or any other vendors. May their dreams comes true. (BTW, waiting to see what they have designed)

These projects don't actually involve the design of anything, and don't usually have any defined deliverable or time-frame to deliver it. They tend to be pork-barrel projects, and after spending a few tens of million dollars over a few years, there will typically be a clamour for the "extension" of the project by another few years; a "redefinition" of the project goals; further indefinite funding, on the grounds that the technology is "strategic". But any efforts to elicit details on the progress up to that point will be stone-walled, usually on grounds of "official secrecy" or due to the "sensitive nature of the IP". This will usually continue for several decades, and a well-entrenched bureaucracy will develop around the project that will ensure that it is perpetuated forever, with no actual deliverables.

India government can develop $10 portable ebook. This is much easier than the development of $10 laptop. The necessary IT technology, both hardware and software, has been developed. The production cost of portable ebook is much lower than that of laptop. After all, it requires only slow CPU, moderate amount of memory, a piece of battery, a keyboard of no more than 6 keys. It does not require IO devices, mouse pad, a full feature keyboard, internet access, and so on.

The market size of portable ebooks is very large. I guess that the annual demand would exceed 100 million books. India government can make huge profit from this product to subsidy the development of $10 laptop. If India government has interest to develop the $10 portable ebook market, please contact me.

India $10 laptop update:

There are already two designs—one each by final year students of Vellore Institute of Technology and a researcher in the famed IISc— in place and government owned Semiconductor Complex too wants to be a part of this project.

Reports said after including the labour costs, the price of the laptop comes to USD 47, however the HRD Ministry feels that laptops can be built for USD 10 if the demand is in excess of one million.

http://www.sda-india.com/sda_india/psecom,id,22,site_layout,sdaindia,news,19723,p,0.html

The only way to get a $10 laptop is using Paper folding displays which work only with touch input, have minimum RAM, no HD and are always connected to a network.

There is also an alternative technology. Yes, people have no idea, but India is far-ahead of all. India is already capable of building a far-more superior computer at $10, infact many countries are. (Read text-book set for 1 child for 1 full year)

Infact, instead of relying on google, this technology teaches you how to search yourself using "page" numbers. You can also browse through text, images all over and bibliography at the end. The device is portable enough for you to carry over to your bed and work from there.You can even use it as a table-weight or decorate your house by that.

Being a techie myself, I know that most of you will find most of the above thing crap, but the fact is that most of us have grown up with books and always thought how good, it would have been had we got a graphics computer the day we were born.

Hey non Indian's out der, India is much talented than u all can imagine.
Dont worry, we will make laptops ourselves, n we will share d technology.
Why should we join with OLPC if we can produce better laptops at a cheaper price???
Let OLPC join our venture, that wud b a better solution if they really wants to bring the price down

Prices are driven by market forces. If India can make a $47 laptop then OLPC can too. Parts are bought from the cheapest manufacturer in the world. Why reinvent the wheel? Why not put your funds to join OLPC instead of acting so self-righteous?

Respected Sir/Madam,

Greeting from Dada Sargar!!
I AM VERY MUCH IMPRESSED TO SEE YOR WORK THROUGH THE WEBSITE!!!
I HAVE A SMALL REQUEST TO DONATE THE LAPTOP FOR THE ORGANISAYTION.
During the period I will report you the details of the facts on which we are working.
Our goal is quite same so, we must have an efforts achieve these goals.
Myself Mr. Dada Sargar working in the field of social work since last five years as a trainee as well as for the year as a documentation officer in satara as well as in the Mumbai. I have completed my bachelor degree in social work from the college of social work.
Last year I have completed my master degree in social work from the college of social work Nirmala Niketan, Mumbai. During the period I have been worked with the following issues:
1. Women empowerment
2. Youth employment'
3. HIV/AIDS
4. Children education
5. Poverty alleviation and so on.....

I would like to request to donate the laptop which we need at the workplace for the dissemination as well as for the suitable drafting of the documentation. To maintain the quality in the reporting we requires it. I hope that we will get the positive reply for the side.

I FIRMLY BELIEVE THAT TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE THE WORLD FITTED FOR THEM.
Looking at your earliest reply. My concern is to make the difference in the lives of deprived as well as marginalized once.

I believe that we will together make the world fitted for them

I hope that I will get the chance to prove myself for the same

Looking at your earliest reply
Thanks & regards,
Dada Sargar,
Mumbai

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