OLPC Mexico: Carlos Slim Buys 250,000 XO Laptops!

olpc carlos slim

We now have OLPC Mexico! Hoy en Telecomuncaciones reports (p1, p2):

Carlos Slim, the richest guy in the world and head of Telmex, is spending 870 million on a health institute, telecenters and this includes 70 million for 250,000 XOs. Focus will be on Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl in Mexico State, and Tuxtla Gutieérrez in Chiapas.
A OLPC purchase by Carlos Slim is not surprising, Nicholas Negroponte has been touting a Slim subsidized OLPC Mexico for a while now. But the price that Carlos Slim is paying for XO laptops is - its nowhere near the "$100 laptop" goal. TechNewsWorld reports that Slim:
would devote about $70 million (51 million euros) this year to the low-cost laptop program. With an estimated cost of $250 (183 euros) to $300 (220 euros) per machine,
While that may be like water off a ducks back for a man estimate to be worth $53 billion, to achieve his promised 1 million XO computers in 2008, he would have to donate $300 million to One Laptop Per Child at $280 dollars per computer per child.

And exactly how will yet another price increase impact the educational budget of OLPC countries like Argentina or Nigeria? And would this change OLPC's chances in Uruguay's Ceibal RFP?

On a bright side, could this Slim-OLPC alliance also mean we'll see adult OLPC Christmas sales at CompUSA?

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Interesting... the AP reports that Carlos Slim isn't doing one laptop per child, but adopting a One Lent Laptop Per Child program:

"Slim, who controls Mexico's largest fixed-line telephone company, Telefonos de Mexico, or Telmex, said the plan would initially put the laptops in libraries and schools, which would eventually give them outright to students.

"The scheme in public libraries would be for them to lend them out, like books," he said, noting his companies would help set up wireless networks for the machines to connect."


From the article:

"Slim said there is no conflict between his role as businessman -- in which he has been criticized for holding a near-monopoly control over the telephone market -- and philanthropist.

"The best investment one can make is to reduce poverty," he said, noting that wealthier citizens are better consumers."

The better consumers are the more money they have to spend on Slim's telecom services. Oplc is not just for promoting education, but economic development in general, and Slim sees this quite clearly.

Now that's good news! So someone has the money to buy the laptop and it's no country in the world.

What irony that the private sector (ok, just one billionaire) is finally doing what governments should be doing (and what negroponte told that only they could do).

So will we see this project happening on the real world or not?

Alexandre, it's his money. He has all the power to spend it the way he likes it. Governments have a large number of constituencies, interests groups and pressure groups to respond to, and citizens that can act against them in the ballot box.

Besides my personal position in this matter, I think governments have to proceed with caution, no matter how enthusiastic they may be about this initiative.

This is a really silly comment, but during the last 2 months I've been increasingly frustrated by the lack of response of our government in Chile and the really slow response by Argentina (currently on hold) and Brasil, Peru and Uruguay. One of the things that have helped me to feel better is this British guy called Paul Potts. I'm sure you all watched him already singing Nesum Dorma. He just gives me hope. Not watched yet? Here it goes (enjoy)
Anyway, I'm gonna say what Simon Cowell said at the end of Paul's stunning performance: I wasn't expecting that!

Are you really saying that after all the lobby and endless knocking of government’s doors is finally the riches man in the world the one that is making this real?

Slim’s move means the first REAL buying commitment.

The involvement of Carlos Slim also introduces a whole new scenario. If philanthropists can enter into the game, then we can all begin to contact them.

Many of the biggest fortunes in the Latin American region are also big donors and usually run foundations with educational projects. Slim is also one of the leaders of an international network of the richest businesspeople in the region. If he begins with this project now I can guarantee you that by 2008 we will have more philanthropists launching similar projects. Unfortunately, they aren’t going to be in a national scale or with full control of the Ministries of Education, which may be not the best scenario. Yet, the private initiatives may help to convince over-cautious governments such as those of the Latin American region.

We may be witnessing the beginning of a domino effect.

Finally, this is for Wayan: I owe you a post man. I’m really sorry. Last two weeks have been awfully hectic down here in Chile. Our government signed an ‘all-inclusive’ agreement with Microsoft (which includes education). There’s a furious response from the Chilean blogosphere and two days ago a bunch of people sent a letter to President Bachelet to reject this agreement which I personally believe is also threatening OLPC.

So here I’m in front of the Presidential Office, armed only with a XO in my hands, explaining to the people why this agreement is also endangering the chances of our kids to have one on their hands too...



This is the greatest news of the day.

As for the per unit price, it has to be specified if it includes average cost of providing free broadband Internet connectivity, if it might include the Potenco or other power generating technology or if it might be to buy the first batch of the mass production with second and third batches quickly going down towards the sub-200 dollar per unit price.

I think that Mexico had thus far somekind of exclusive deal with Intel, so thanks to Intel joining OLPC, and thanks to Carlos Slim, now this opens up to many XO's to be in the hands of Mexican children starting this year, that is simply awesome!

Does anyone know how well the Mexican open source and education sector are doing today? And could someone maybe point out some sectors of Mexican IT and educational software, educational content that will be able to be quickly integrated with deploying the OLPC and thus contributing imminently to the international OLPC knowledge and research for the next months.

TechNewsWorld doesn't seem to specify if it is XO-1, CM-1 or both that is being bought by Carlos Slim. I wonder if OLPC with Intel on the board now is distributing a combination of XO-1 and CM-1, and thus that could be the reason for the price being an average of 250-300 dollars per laptop.

If for example 50% are XO-1 at $175 each and that the other 50% are Classmate-1 at $375 each that brings the average per laptop delivered in Mexico to $275.

Where the XO-1 could be the kind of laptop that is to be given to every child in Mexico, while the Intel Classmate running classic Windows XP (with a special licencing price) could be the one to be used in libraries.

awesome! btw, here's a little known fact about Mexico: it has about as many *living* languages as India or China.. Mexico has sixty-two (62) living languages..

only 50 people speak Teco, while well over a million speak Maya and well over two million speak Nahuatl.. today, every day.. the state Chiapas, one of Slim's targetted deployment sites, may be the most linguistically diverse places in Mexico.. many, many languages..

for http://wiki.laptop.org/go/WiXi this is great news.. while WiXi will work with big languages like English and Spanish, it will also work between smaller languages like Chol or Acatec..


Governments are becoming increasingly useless in education especially in latin america. In Nicaragua development is driven by private investment and government drives theft and corruption. We have our own version of Slim called Roberto Zamora and others who understand that creating an educated population creates a healthier market.