G1G1 Success Equals G1G1 for Ethiopia, Iran, Italy and UK?


Joanna Stern at Laptop magazine just interviewed Nicholas Negroponte about the future of Give One Get One, the popular XO laptop donation plan from One Laptop Per Child.

g1g1 globally

The news? It looks like G1G1 will continue, just not in North America:

LAPTOP MAG: Many people don’t want to see Give 1, Get 1 end. Will a program like this ever be available again?

Nicholas Negroponte: We are exploring two parallel routes. One is doing a Give One or Give Many for diaspora of specific countries - Ethiopia and Iran immediately. The other is doing a Give 1, Get 1 in specific countries: Italy and UK are in discussion. As for in the USA, maybe next Christmas.

Now I wonder why those four countries - they are an odd mix. I can see OLPC wanting to build on Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi commitment of 50,000 laptops for Ethiopia with a G1G1 for purchases in Rome and donation in Addis Ababa, but what's the Iranian or UK angle?

Maybe a G1G1 between London and Tehran? If so, Negroponte will need the advice of several teams of lawyers to dance around American technology transfer restrictions unless his brother opens back doors.

Regardless, North Americans have opened a huge door for OLPC to grow. Just check out the initial results from G1G1:

LAPTOP MAG: How many laptops have been donated through the G1, G1 program?

Nicholas Negroponte: It is hard to count, because some people gave many. Birmingham, Alabama ordered 15,000 for its kids, because of G1G1, but I really cannot count those 15,000. The final number will be between 150,000 and 170,000 laptops, without counting the very big ones like Birmingham.

Wow, 150,000 G1G1 donated XO laptops for children in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Haiti, Mongolia and Rwanda. Once they start shipping, it will be an amazing New Year for everyone's favorite XO laptop.

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Unfortunately, G1G1 has not been a success, in my opinion. The success of a charity is not measured by how much money it can raise in a massive push to do so. The success of a charity is measured by sustained contribution rate, which is heavily dependent upon reputation for service delivery and reputation among potential donor circles.

It is not a success for a charity to have a big, splashy fundraising dinner where a lot of money is raised but everyone gets sick the next day because corners were cut on food refrigeration. If the charity cannot pull off a controlled service delivery like that, how can they be relied on to pull off an uncontrolled service delivery (like computers to a third world country)? It's a legitimate question that OLPC has so far dodged answering.

As thousands of unhappy U.S. donors (a mission which should have been easy) wonder what is wrong and operate in an information vacuum, OLPC is looking ahead to a new drive? Maybe they do not think that the computer savvy people who will be involved in making computer purchases read the Internet.

If I were OLPC, I would root out the causes of the delivery failure, sack the people responsible, improve their infrastructure, and feel like they owe their donor base a full, transparent explanation. Without one, I won't be donating another dime to them, no matter how worthy their cause. That's how established, respected, reliable charities operate.

I'd say G1G1 was a success, even thought I'd put that 150,000 units number in the same category as the 10 hour battery life.

If they learned anything from the shipping debacle OLPC will survive. If they continue to label any negative input as 'whining' then they won't. Simple as that.

G1G1 was a success especially if you consider that it was limited in time and limited to North America.

It is a pity that they couldn't deliver the laptops as expected but I believe one should not be so harsh on a newly founded charity organization like OLPC. You cannot compare their operations to Oxfam for example because 1) they are very young compared to them 2) the do a very different kind of charity work.

However, I don't think that G1G1 in those kinds of diaspora (Ethiopia, Iran) will be successful at all. The buying power of potential donors will not be the same as NA donors --> no $400 donations.

G1G1 in the UK is a better idea, although the "market" for donors is far-far smaller.

I believe OLPC should make the XO available to individuals without any limitations for little more than the costs. This should be their responsibility as a charity which works on low cost computing. The "not available at all for the public" kind of behaviour is self destructing for OLPC.

a curiosity: the G1G1 program idea was born in Prodi's kitchen, negroponte said...

you can find the video linked here (in italian!)


start it with "cliccando qui" in the middle part of the page, 7th portion of the speaking


G1G1 born in the Italian Prime Minister's kitchen? That's news, as before he said that Jeff Bezos of Amazon told him to do G1G1.

Could you translate this section of the video for us non-Italian speakers? My great-grandfather was Italian but he passed away long before he could teach me the language.

It wasn't a success, it was more than a success and not enough. I'm saying this, because, in some ways the G1G1 was too successful initially, with more orders than what could be fullfilled by Christmas deliveries. They sold more than they could deliver, because they set a Christmas delivery date. That disappointed some who expected them soon, but didn't get them before Christmas. That put a little bit of negative posts out there. It's a case of selling something that is not yet available.

Then again, it's not a success in some ways, because it didn't give early donors enough time to show and drum up more "first hand sales" after showing them to others.

There was at least a 30% interest rate of those who talked to me and saw the computers. This didn't translate into sales, because many were not G1G1 donor level committed, but many did show interest and with a long enough window they might buy one. Some did tell me they would simply donate. A friend of mine on Christmas vacation said he'd like to see it and show it to his "school system" after new years. I'm wondering why would we even bother? It's not like a small school system could be instantly convinced they are a good deal and do a G1G1 order, after the deadline. Even after new years I had some people who work at resturants where I eat regularly surprized and rushing over to look and desire an interest in the computer, but it's to late now for them. They can either get one via reselling ebay, or not, which means lost G1G1 donations, because it's not extended to the US longer. But I suppose there had to be some kind of cutoff time.

Maybe market exposure is a good thing, but I'm not sure how many would want to just donate, based on seeing one, verses getting one. I'm a donor who gave to "feeding and schooling" kids in the past, so I'm a person who is both a "geek" in computers (IT) and also a third world donor type. I'm a good match for a donor profile.

I had one person who wanted one and saw the news flash but didn't know how to get one, say she'd get one and thanked me for showing her the machine. She told me recently that she ordered it the last minute, just before the deal was closed via internet. So she almost didn't get one.

Maybe in the sense of it not being a competing product in the US markets, it's a success to get some jump starts going and if four or five countries can get some good deployment, they'll get good production release press on the XO's for other countries and that will help get the deployment going into high gear. As a start, it's a success, as a "maximum amount of units moving" it's not, because another month of G1G1 would be needed. It's not easy to sell something people cannot see and use and learn to use. The internet isn't the same as showing people the XO in person. It's much more appealing in person.

my line today is a bit laggy so i can't find the exact moment in the negroponte speaking

In the first comment i've made a mistake, the phrase is in the 5th portion of the speaking.

But the very first assertion of Alessandro Ovi (director of MIT Technology Review Italia) in the 6th portion is:
"Given that we have with us professor Prodi, in whose kitchen was born the G1G1 idea; i was there, i'm a witness so i can swear..."

we need a face to face ovi - bezos in front of a court! ;)

I am an Ethiopian living in Canada.

I think the best way to deliver more laptop is to use local business model.

For example:- Most Ethiopian who live and work in Canada want to build house in Ethiopia but they can’t afforded to pay land lease which is very costly.

Now if the govt. has land for much cheaper price for Ethiopian who wants to build as long as the House builder pay 200USD even 1000 dollars toward laptop… I think I will find 100,000 takers… This business model looked nothing but I know what is hot commodity in Ethiopian Market because of local Knowledge. This model also works to attract local investor to donate laptop for exchange of land lease.

You might ask where the govt. got the land? In Ethiopia the govt. own the land and each and every local govt. have huge amount of land they can be ready to be leased but no taker because of high lease rate.

I have another business model that work for our local problem, Hopeful some one give me feedback on this one and I will be more then happy to get back to you guys!

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