How to Recycle Apple iPad to Replace OLPC Laptops


Congratulations to Apple for selling 300,000 iPads on the first weekend. I'm sure the product will be come a great success for the company. But while die-hard Apple fanboys were celebrating, this tweet from a spoof Steve Jobs caught my eye:

While the idea that the iPad will sell for $99 in two years is compelling, I'm more interested in what's gonna happen to all those 1st Generation iPads and even iPod Touch, when their owners upgrade to the next and newest Apple creation.

Apple currently offers to recycle your old computer when you buy a new one, but what if we took this idea a step farther?

What if Apple instead asked for your permission to send your used computer to a school in the developing world? Wouldn't that single act along generate a surplus of WiFi-enabled eBook readers and educational facilitators on the scale of OLPC - or even greater?

Refurbished with new batteries and a fresh OSX install, these recycled iPads and iPod Touches could change the dynamics of computing in the schools of Africa without threatening Apple's high-end price lock on developed world early adopters.

Best of all, those that knocked the XO laptop as a "gadget" ain't gonna say a word about the iPad's functionality.


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Are you worried that today's announcement of a Marvel XO-3 Moby tablet will further confuse the XO laptop roadmap? That the limited OLPC resources will focus on the tablet, to the detriment of the existing form factor? [more]


ipad for $99?

what about the pc/mac with itunes to sync with? will that be free? so you need to factor that into the cost of your deployment. granted one pc/mac can support multiple ipads but having used an iphone i found that itunes caused corruption of the data i stored on my iphone. the notepad app ended up with missing and duplicate information.

the olpc can work alone and with no other device needed to configure or backup its information barring a memory card or usb stick.

Way off the mark, wayan.

Upgrading to a new I-pad is the same as upgrading to a new I-phone: you keep the old unit. It does NOT go back to Apple.

Why would anyone give the old , fully-functional unit to Apple?

Besides, as a previous poster mentioned, the I-pad will NOT cost $99 in two years. Second: like all aple devices, there are connectivity charges (data plan, etc) and a very ridgid method of managing data through I-tunes.

so, not, your idea has zero chance.

I actually own an XO and an ipad wifi. I love the XO but it is butt slow. It crashes occassionally when my son does typing turtle (the sole reason to own it).

The ipad hasn't crashed yet, has all sorts of free software that is educational, and is drop dead gorgeous and fast. I even read a book outside in the bright sun.

That said, I'm no C programmer (ipad) and python seems like a better programming language for beginners (like me) and for open source stuff.

Giving any computer sound like a great idea. The XO has some unique features though: it doesn't need to be jail-broken, you can install, backup and restore a GNU OS on it. It can be programmed in (mostly) python. You can get many activities for it easily. It support many languages. Sugar Labs is doing it part to make most of this happen. Apple makes mostly products that are tightly control with DRM and some require constant net access with Apple accounts. Can a kid in Afghanistan find a DSL link and signup for the Apple accounts to enjoy an ipad/iphone? Copyright restrictions and licensing agreements needed?
The Sugar/XO pair are open and flexible and designed for rugged use. Maybe the XO-3 will combine the best of all these.

You have got to be kidding. Unlike the OLPC XO laptop which is already being distributed at very low cost, it doesn't have a keyboard, isn't cheap, wasn't designed for children, wasn't designed for learning, doesn't use extremely little power, doesn't have super-powerd wifi, doesn't do mesh networking, Can't be used easily in bright sunlight, doesn't have a webcam, can't comfortably be used at a desk, can't run software not explicitly approved by apple and downloaded directly from them. Major software updates will likely cost a pretty penny, like the iphone, and most importantly, the ipad is obviously not going to be sold at a price much different from its current price anytime soon. Can you get a used iphone that still works properly for $99? The ipad is cool but it has no advantage for young students in the developing world. There is no reason to think that the idea is even plausible. OLPC meanwhile already works. Clearly it has its own problems but these can be resolved. What you have published here is complete nonsense. Apple doesn't give a lick about poor people and never will. The stock-holders would punish management dearly for such charity work. Let's get back to reality. The XO can be improved, let's talk about how

Not that I can speak for the people of the developing world, but I am pretty sure that they don't want our old cast offs.

What if this is only a partial spoof? What if Sugar Labs has recently announced that its Sugar on a Stick childrens' software can plug into any computer? I have a 10 year old laptop with Winows XP that I will never use again.

The ipad's battery lasts 10 hours. The XO so far about 3 at best.

The XO is NOT available. You have to buy, what, 1000 at a time? How is that considered available?

The only really great thing about OLPC is Sugar on a Stick (Soas).

Apple is all about the money. The third world is not a market Apple wants. They continue to maintain an iron grip on app distribution, they have rules prohibiting most/all cross-platform applications (so good luck building a library of educational apps), and they can deny any app entry into the app store for any reason:

Plus it starts at $500. And I assume you can't obtain apps in a place with no internet access. The iPad/iPhone just doesn't seem right for education, let alone in the third world.

Great article!

We actually run a business and this is where we are headed in the future. For now we have sent a Dell laptop to Haiti and we are working to sustain ourselves to donate more.

I have blogged about OLPC at the program is awful and full of epistemological bias.

The Indian government is championing a $35 Android tablet made in China.

A cell phone is better than a OLPC. And you can use twitter with a cell phone :)