Should You Give One, Win One OLPC XO?


Hot on the heels of yet another XO laptop eBay sale, Rebecca Carpenter sent me this interesting use of the One Laptop Per Child G1G1 XO sales program: a contest where an XO is the prize.

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Her company, Razoo has just launched a Good Travels contest to encourage people to do good while they travel. As part of the contest, they're giving away ten XO laptops - five to contest winners, and five to children in developing nations, and she says:

The XO Laptop is an important component of the Good Travels contest for several reasons. First, it reflects the kind of fun and innovative solution that Razoo loves to support. Second, the laptop itself is great for travelers -- so if you're going off the beaten path, this makes a great traveling companion. And third, the OLPC campaign shares a similar mission with Razoo -- to encourage and support people doing good around the world.
Now I am conflicted about this. On one hand, it raises the profile and use of the XO, but on the other, is this really going to increase educational opportunities for children in the developing world?

And on a very basic level, will the winners of the contest really enjoy their XO laptop experience? While I can see a few geeks enjoying the XO-1, I don't see it taking over the backpacker trial anytime soon. Rebecca take:

Who said you can't be altruistic and a little bit selfish at the same time? That's the premise behind the Give One Get One campaign, right? So don't feel bad about it -- embrace it!
What do you think? Should support such Give One, Win One actions?

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While I am probably one of the forementioned geeks who'd enjoy using an XO on the road, I think it's important to realize that the XO really has a great potential for a general travel-computer, especially for international travel.

Some of the reasons are obvious: small, light-weight, built-in wifi, built-in SD card slot for transferring digicam pix.

But the primary reasons are battery life and durability. The XO seems to be one of the most durable computing devices out there in its class. And the battery life seems superb. The last thing a backpack traveler wants is a brick of electronics whose battery has died after 4 hours. The option of changing screen modes, as well as a wide power input range, means that a traveler could really take this thing anywhere and have it be a useful part of their pack.

Unfortunately, the bright green color ain't so good. I'd rather not advertise (relatively) expensive gear.

I know the makers of the OPLC are all about the education but I'd bet they could sell 20,000 of these tomorrow if you could walk into a facility with $400 and walk out with a computer, (or if the on-line ordering guaranteed Xmas delivery). That way 20,000 poor kids would have paid-for computers in a two week period. I think the product is good for older kids for the reasons you just listed. I think even the color would be okay, loud colors didn't hurt ipod sales.

I think the concept behind the XO is noble, and hope that it does well. I do travel a lot but don't see the XO as part of my gear. Instead I use a lightweight alphasmart that runs on AA batteries. The other day I saw that the company has set a goal of sending 10,000 alphasmarts to northern kenya, and are working with a nonprofit (the center for growth and change I think?) to get them there with training. i'm glad to see others are doing things similar to the OLPC.

Interesting that you brought up the Alphasmart. My child's school used them but ONLY for children with fine motor skills issues. They are used exclusively as word processors. I went to Alphasmart's website and it costs $200-400 dollars. Alphasmart is smaller, cheaper, has massive battery life and easy to purchase. The XO has more feature, is cooler looking, but when you're going to get your hands on it is sketchy and training/support seems vague.

You might be interested in a similar project we're launching with our client, BC Hydro, and their Facebook app Green Gifts.

We launched Green Gifts for BC Hydro (the power utility in British Columbia, Canada) in October to promote conservation. Now through Nov. 26th, BC Hydro is lending the application to promoting the XO and letting people know that they can Give One, Get One until November 26th.

So to encourage Facebook users to spread the word about the XO, BC Hydro is Giving One and Getting One itself -- and giving its XO as a prize to a Green Gifts user.

Facebook users can learn all about the application, and the contest, at

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