Military Coup Risk for OLPC Sales


If you want to reduce logistical costs, the easiest way is to sell more to less buyers. One Laptop Per Child thought of this early on, and has been myopically focused on selling its 2B1 Children's Machine laptops just to governments in units of at least one million.

While this is a brilliant strategy to eliminate the cost and hassle of single unit or even small unit block sales, there is one major risk having only a handful of buyers. A risk OLPC is now confronting in real time.

ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra

One of the four initial target countries, Thailand, just had a coup. The military leadership took control of the government from . Thaksin was a proponent of the OLPC project, announcing in August that Thailand would be testing 530 2B1 Children's Machines.

In time we learned that really, Thailand would only be testing visual models and developer board demos, but Thaksin already linked himself closely with One Laptop Per Child.

Now that coup leader is in control, and new elections will be held soon, the entire government leadership of Thailand is in flux. In that flux, few if any career bureaucrats or politicians will be egger to associate with one of Thaskin's efforts or commit at least $140 million dollars towards the purchase of 2B1 Children's Machines.

This leaves Nicholas Negroponte in quite a predicament. Does he continue to claim that Thailand will be an initial roll-out partner until he's publicly rebuffed or embraced? If rebuffed, what country will step up to make his self-imposed 5 million laptop initial production run?

Or might he go a whole different route, go back upon on the founding tenants of OLPC, and not only sell single laptops, but sell them in developed countries too? Say, sell 2B1 Children's Machines on eBay even?

Related Entries

1 Comment

Thaksin needed to go. He was bad. He would take books from children. Children need books and laptops. Not one or other.