In a telling passage showing the BBC News read my calculations of the real cost of OLPC's, they asked Mary Lou Jepsen, Chief Technology Officer for One Laptop Per Child, about these "extra" costs in their "$100 laptop set for launch" interview with her:
However, there have been claims that once distribution and repair costs are taken into account the true cost of the laptops is nearer $1,000 than $100.Interesting, how did she get to "pennies per month"? It's not by using the costs I calculated over OLPC's stated 5 year XO-1 laptop lifespan goal.
Ms. Jepsen admitted that these costs do exist, but said they were "literally pennies per month".
"There is, in kind, contribution from the governments that do the distribution of the laptops, but other than that we're dropping 100,000 units a month to each country," she added,
When I projected a 5 year budget to bring in a reasonable training and curricula integration module, I didn't believe that the $1/child/year Internet access would extend beyond the first year of implementation, and therefore came up with a $972/child total, ($194.40/year or $16.20/month/child for the 5 year plan).
To get down to "pennies," (let's say four cents, otherwise its nickels) this investment has to be amortized over 2025 years ($0.04/month * 12months/year = $0.48/year * 2025 years = $972). No matter the durability of the Children's Machine, it's not going to last that long.
Perhaps she meant to say pennies per day? Four cents per day is $14.60 annually, so in just 66.6 years, the $972 cost is spread out to pennies per day.
For argument's sake, maybe $972 is too high, so let's trim it down. The "Thousand Dollar Laptop" cost presumes an initial laptop cost of $148, but OLPC predicts this will decrease, falling under $100 once heavy production starts, so let's use $100 as the average for OLPC XO's. Let's further presume that the $1/user satellite Internet holds, leaving maintenance (down to $5/laptop/year with the $100 laptop) and training budgets. This gives us a friendlier number, of $376. Now it only takes 25.75 years to spread this cost out to get down to $0.04/day (783.3 years at $0.04/month).
At the very low end, at $208/laptop, the amount extracted from the Libyan MOU, it takes just over 14 years to amortize the cost down to "pennies" (per day, of course, per month, well, we're still in the hundreds-of-years). At the lowest possible number to use, $100, it takes 6 years at pennies per day, or 208 years at pennies per month, and this doesn't include installation, training, Internet access...
Maybe she is just talking about these services? Even the super-cheap $1/year for Internet is eight cents per month, but once you start adding back in initial setup, training, and maintenance costs, you're talking more significant pocket change.
Ms. Jepsen's remarks reminded me that I forgot to include shipping costs... "And that is not very expensive - it really is cents per laptop to ship."
Let's hope not!