Do you remember the Bolivarian Computer promoted by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez? Venezuela Analysis has some more details of it and in short, it's not really all that impressive, with the cheapest model selling for $405, with 3 differently-priced desktops and a laptop. The most expensive model (probably the laptop, running on a 2.0 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo) will be $1,400:
"The price of other similar brands is US$ 930, and the price of our computer is US$ 690, almost 40% less," explained President Chavez. "But, in addition, it has an added value, given that it comes with open-source software and a three year guarantee, while other brands only offer one year."OK, so, a desktop computer with some peripherals (a webcam and headphone/mic set plus a snazzy flatpanel monitor, according to the photo), but none of the revolutionary add-ons that the OLPC for mesh networking or flexibility with regards to power supplies.
The first production run is for 80,000 desktops but only 6,000 laptops, so the focus is at least initially on computer labs or home computers, as opposed to the ultra-portable OLPC approach. On the plus side, Venezuela is increasingly focusing on using Open Source software, and this PC will be no different, and presumably someone could load up Sugar on it.
The catch for the Bolivarian Computer (BC) though, is that it is domestically produced, including local assembly. Unlike the OLPC which is parachuted in from Quanta's factory floor, the BC will be manufactured in Venezuela through a joint partnership between the government's Ministry of Light Industry and Commerce and Lang Chao, a Chinese company, VIT (Venezuela de Industria Tecnológica).
The only other country thus far that is benefiting at all on the production side as well as the educational side of One Laptop Per Child has been Brazil, which is manufacturing school servers domestically. Venezuela Analysis says:
Until now Venezuela has always imported computers both from well-known brands and generic brands from the developed world. With this new venture the Venezuelan government hopes to diversify national production, integrate national productive chains, and work towards technological independence for the country.
By the end of the year, the intention is to begin to locally produce some of the technology in order to substitute some of the imported components used in the assembly of the machines for components produced in Venezuela. In order to do this, the government has built installations for research and development in order to design the components inside the same factory.
Hugo Chávez: No OLPC?
We are working with cooperatives and small companies to form our own distribution network," said the manager of sales Eduardo Hernandez. "It's a slow process. This month we have already completed the formation (of a distribution network) in Caracas and by the end of the year we will have distribution and technical support throughout the whole country."While the Bolivarian Computer may not stack up to the OLPC technology, Venezuela's long-term development of their technology sector may prove a better strategy for the country.
According to the web page of the new state company, VIT has the objective of "production, marketing and sale of technological products, with an emphasis in manufacturing and assembling computers and accessories. Our efforts are also focused on national export, with a future projection to the international market."