XO-1 Laptop Production Delayed Again

   
   
   
   
   

One Laptop Per Child can't get a break today. First they admit that the XO-1 laptop cost is now $188-$205 dollars per computer, double the original "$100 laptop" marketing slogan, casting doubts on OLPC's pricing ability.

drunk coding
Another XO delay explanation...

Then, Jim Finlke reports that OLPC has postponed Quanta Computer's XO assembly:

Production, which was slated to begin this month, has been postponed to November so that the group can work out bugs in the final beta version of the green-and-white laptops, said foundation spokesman George Snell.

Some 40,000 units will be produced in November, then about 80,000 the following month, he said.

Now the cynic in me wants to say that the production delay is not related to an unfinished Sugar user interface, as the OLPC developers are a very gifted lot. I would rather make the case that both the increase in price and delay in production are related to the lack of government buyers.

I say that Quanta and its computer component suppliers increased the OLPC costs as the sales projections dropped from the original 10 million Children's Machines per year, to 5, then 3, and now 1 million units or less.

And now that production goals have dropped so low, Quanta is probably shifting it production capacity to support computer retailers that do meet their sales forecasts and are ready to sell laptops by Christmas.

Two more reasons why Nicholas Negroponte should abandon his "only government buyers" strategy and allow OLPC retail sales in the USA.

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23 Comments

Why isn't the marketing side of the OLPC Project handed over to an entity with proven experience and a commitment to actually serving the poor children of the world? There are many retailing co-operatives in the world that have survived and thrived in the big bad world of modern capitalism; two that come to my mind immediately are REIin the USA and MEC in Canada. The sorts of retail models that have been developed by these types of operations would lend years of depth of experience to any attempt to market the XO.

In the end however, the bottom line should be: Anyone
who wants to buy an X0 can do so, in any reasonable
quantity or configuration!

Here's the official software development roadmap from OLPC: http://dev.laptop.org/roadmap Looks like OLPC is aiming to send Quanta the final code by the end of the month, at the earliest:

Trial-3 is beta level code for the first mass deployments. The milestone due date is one week before the manufacturer needs an image drop for mass production.

The most important feature in this grouping is robust upgrades to the laptops. That will provide us with the ability to fix other problems after ship. The next level of security and containers will probably still require much discussion so as to minimize impact as we get to feature freeze.

Schedule:
* Feature Freeze, 2007-08-27
* Code Freeze, 2007-09-17
* Release to Quanta, 2007-09-21
* Final release to Quanta for MP, 2007-09-28

The Reuters story has been corrected. The project has not been delayed. We are still on target for production to begin in October with distribution to begin to countries in November.

The project is moving ahead as planned. Here is the link to the corrected Reuters story:

http://www.reuters.com/article/technologyNews/idUSN1427617320070915

Why in earth would a laptop that mesh networks, that is able to plug itself to any open internet connection and can do a P2P download of system updates would be delayed because of software updates?

The big question is: suppose OLPC sell them in a bulk of a thousand laptop. That would allow the buying decision to be made on a city per city basis, on a municipal level basis, on a small scale. That's where the early adopters live: in a small but risk-taker community. And then negroponte would be selling a US$200,000.00 computer solution, and don't tell me you cannot manage the logistics of selling something that cost almost a quarter million dollar.

Negroponte: please, sell those laptops to schools. Because in 6-12 months they won't be so hot, and they will probably be underpriced by some crappy dell-windows subnotebook.

It's software but also minor hardware adjustments that are made before mass production. A hardware bug concerning the stand-by and resume function has been fixed. Maybe also some final DCON adjustments. Read the latest newsletter from Walter Bender.

The OLPC is the most advanced computer ever made, let them finish it up perfectly. The first round of the mass production is very important.

George,

You may have convinced Reuters that you were mistaken in your comments, but OLPC's own roadmap says otherwise.

If you can hit OLPC's previously announced target of 40,000 notebooks rolling off Qaunta's laptop production line by Sept. 22 I'll issue my own redaction: http://www.olpcnews.com/hardware/production/olpc_xo_michail_bletsas.html

Wayan wrote:

"Two more reasons why Nicholas Negroponte should abandon his "only government buyers" strategy and allow OLPC retail sales in the USA. "

Can you, just for one second, give consideration to the possibility that the average person on the street MIGHT not want a computer like the XO, at ANY price?

Lindows was a good lesson to remember for those who think that people in the USA will accept crippled machines if the price is low enough...

"Can you, just for one second, give consideration to the possibility that the average person on the street MIGHT not want a computer like the XO, at ANY price?

Lindows was a good lesson to remember for those who think that people in the USA will accept crippled machines if the price is low enough..."

I think you're confusing XO with Classmate or EeePC laptops.

XO's dual screen mode, low power usage and it's durability is achieved using cutting edge technology and provides users needing highly portable, if basic, computing with a solution not achievable by laptops many times its price...

Delphi wrote:

"XO's dual screen mode, low power usage and it's durability is achieved using cutting edge technology and provides users needing highly portable, if basic, computing with a solution not achievable by laptops many times its price..."

I don't think so.

You can't do tthe simplest of tasks any regular person would expect to do with a regular laptop:

You can't add a printer.
You can't install software.
You can't store data.

It's a no-go.

Yes, I know that those things can be added to a commercial version, but then the price would begin to approach that of much more capable computers from maintream merchants like Dell, Hewlett-Packard, etc.

That's the reason Prof. Negroponte won't be selling them in the USA any time soon. The average person won't look at these things with geek eyes. The willl be asking the simple, obvious questions:

Can I add a printer?
Where will I store my data?
What software can I install to satisfy my personal computing needs?
Can I install my favorite games?

The answer is "NO" to all those questions, and that's a recipe for failure in the real world.

I have to agree with Kappa. Something that would kill any comercial version of the XO would be the lack of third-party software. Adults don't need to "learn learining" anymore, so the marketing gimmicks need to be a bit more realistic.

I don't foresee a bright future for a commercial version, but I might be wrong...

Robert L.

Robert,

You would also be using the same computer as Russel Brown and Kappa to voice your agreement. You might want to at least change IP addresses before agreeing with yourself two times on the same post.

You're right, Wayan.

Robert's IP address completely refutes his legitimate arguments. He is right, but he is wrong, for all the right reasons.

BTW, can you add a printer to the XO?
Can you install your favorite software on the XO?
Could you store your work on the XO?
What could a regular adult do with the XO?

Hey, my IPhone, at $399 can store 2000 MP3's, a few hundred contacts, take pictures, check the weather, send and receive email, make and receive calls, browse the internet, check google maps, do calculations, check my favorite stocks, etc., etc.

(not to mention that the ipod is VERY cool-looking - can the XO say the same?)

Negroponte needs to do FAR more to appeal to consumers in the USA. We are spoiled rotten, to be honest with you. We don't want Lindows, we don't want Sugar. We want fat hard drives, multi-core processors, a boatload of RAM and more software than we could install in a lifetime. Energy and/or money are not a problem (there are more buyers for Nintendo Wii and Xboxes than the manufacturers can put in the shelves...months after release!). We are rich and we will not take the XO, baby. Bring us a nice, cool machine that can run smooth animations on a 24-inch LCD. That's what we want.

The XO is a toy computer, for kids to play with. It's certainly not for your average adult. It doesn't even appeal to the kid in me...


;-)

Russel, Kappa, Robert, Delphi(?),

"We want fat hard drives, multi-core processors, a boatload of RAM and more software than we could install in a lifetime."

Ah yes, super-sized-Big-Mac syndrome ;)

XO is, at it's core, a linux machine - whatever can be done on other linux machine can be done one XO as well, printing including...

Most people use computer for email, word processing and some internet browsing - something which XO will do nicely wherever you are. Of course, there aren't any other laptops on the market you could use as a eBook reader as well.

A 'super-sized-Big-Mac'* computer may give you some temporary false sense of satisfaction but it's not going to be that good for you (cost, portability and durability) in the long term if that's all you rely on... ;)


*en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Size_Me

"BTW, can you add a printer to the XO?"

Yup via Gutenprint package. I can remove Sugar interface and replace it by another distribution.

"Can you install your favorite software on the XO?"

Given the memory available, no. However, the XO will force developers to think about a better management of memory.

"Could you store your work on the XO?"
Text work yes and they can be exported to USB flash drive or hard drive.

"What could a regular adult do with the XO?"
More than you can think of especially in developing countries.

That wasn't nice, Wayan.

Instead of deleting the guy's post, why don't you address his very legitimate questions?

Play nice, if you want real, valid dialog. Let the public see the two sides of this coin...it's the honest thing to do.

I am all about constructive, respectful dialog, which is the whole purpose of OLPC News.

Commenting as others, disrespecting others, and generally being an ass will have your comments deleted and your IP banned dear Target, Not Delphi, Robert, Russel and any other name you try on.

Hi Wayan:
The October schedule has been the target date since July.

http://wiki.laptop.org/images/4/4c/One_Laptop_per_Child_Announces_Final_Beta_Version_of_its_Revo...pdf

We try to keep the Wiki updated, but its a big site. Try to keep in mind that these are target dates we trying to reach. So far, I think we're doing a good job and hitting them.

I had a priceless opportunity to have an informal chat about computer techmology with a group of about 10 very bright kids this past weekend. The occassion was my son's 12th birthday party and it happened during a contemplative moment after a rather intensive squirt gun battle while serving up some pizza . . . the perfect setting. One of them started talking about iPhone hacks and everybody chirped in with stories about their favorite devices.

These young people are already internet savvy and own all the typical electronic gadgets that most Americans their age are familiar with (various cellphones, GameBoys, PSP, the Wii, X-Box, etc.) I mentioned the development of a low price laptop - designed primarily for their peers in the third world that aren't as technologically endowed - and all ears perked up. Some had already heard about it (probably from the 60 Minutes TV piece that recenty reaired.) The standard "Windows or Mac?" questions came up with some and they all seemed rather fascinated when I said "Neither . . . it runs Linux." This only seemed to add to the allure. Free downloadable software that they could learn how to modify on their own? A very cool idea in their eyes.

I mentioned efficiency in operating system and power consumption; the ability to run the sorts of applications that do all the typical things that they already do on a computer (word processing, internet connectivity) with a small chip and flash drive. Since they are not oblivious to the corporate generated treadmill we all know about - or should be aware of - in regards to software bloat and the endless race to make the next geneartion of hardware with larger RAM and bigger hard drives to accomodate it (who among them hadn't already encountered the frustration of not being to update their 3 year old "already obsolete" home computer with the latest generation of software that suddenly required double the RAM and hard disc requirements?), they were even more intrigued that it wasn't just another "Macdoz" laptop in a funky green and white case.

The weather resistant aspect, WiFi "ears" with superior reception and the swivel screen that can turn into a tablet was also something that they found very intriguing. "When can I buy one?" most asked and all I could really say with any degree of honesty was "Sometime soon, hopefully. I want one too."

If anyone here is naive enough to think that the typical American middle class kid - who already has access to "real" computers and software dependent entertainment gadgets - would turn up their nose at the "unsophisticated" OLPC XO, I have heard from a cross section of them that flatly confirms otherwise.

Hello Benjamin and All

There's a well-tried cartoon joke which has a bunch of doctors standing around a dead PC screen and a voice from behind them saying "Let me through, I'm a twelve-year-old boy."

I think it's important to remember, too, that a twelve year old boy from the margin of the desert or the jungle, with no shoes, no electricity and no education, is going to be just as technically savvy as my own grandson is while he plays games on my machine.

Once this child has picked up the first smatterings from the Digital Age, there's going to be no stopping him either. That's what education does.

Cheers'n love, Martin

To what extent is the OLPC price dependent on the performance of the dollar? If the dollar continues to slide versus other world currencies, could that cause the price to skyrocket?

Zack,

The OLPC is almost 90% manufactured in Taiwan/China, so their currencies are the the ones most effecting XO pricing, not the dollar.

And if XO is priced in dollars, and the dollar is dropping, currency fluxuations would make XO"s cheaper, not more expensive for developing world governments.

Wayan,

This is not (necessarily) exactly true. It might be a little more complicated.

It may be that component transfer pricing is in US dollars (I am not knowledgeable about how this normally works in this sector).
If not, fluctuations in values of the RMB and the TWD could/would impact the USD price as well.

(This presumes that governments pay in local currency -- a fair assumption, perhaps, although if donor agencies got involved this may not be the case, and more than a few developing country governments do lots of international transactions denominated in other currencies -- like the USD).

And Carlos Slim (for example) could conceivably decide to pay in either dollars or pesos.

This brings up an interesting question about how the OLPC Foundation (or whoever actually 'sells' these things) might be set up to handle currency exchange risk and transaction costs on the 'retail' end.

I have never (until now) thought of the fact that the $100 laptop (which can only be bought in bulk) might be a misnomer because it might be sold nowhere for USD.

The other price issue that I haven't seen addressed on this board relates to import tariffs -- where a local computer assembly industry exists, one suspects that they would call foul if XO machines were to be allowed duty-free importation (and big international computer retailers would certainly say that preferential treatment of this nature would give OLPC an 'unfair' advantage -- and they would be right, of course).

Anon,

Product pricing is very complex, and currencies do play a role. However, I do not believe the current price change is based on USD forex exactly for all the reasons you name.

I am quite sure that there are more complex issues around scale and implementation that are effecting XO prices. If you read the pricing post, OLPC's bid in Uruguay is $205 due to locally imposed warranties and support: http://www.olpcnews.com/sales_talk/price/olpc_uruguay_205_dollars_laptop.html

Lower USD exchange rates would actually reduce, not inflate OLPC Uruguay prices.

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