When I predicted that Give 1 Get 1 2008 would only be 10% of the G1G1 2007 XO laptop sales volume and impact, I was hoping to be proven wrong. It turns out I was off in my estimation, but not the way I wanted to be.
G1G1 2008 sales were only 7% of 2007's, according to Nicholas Negroponte in the Boston Globe. :
During the 2008 holiday season, the program sold only about 12,500 laptops and generated a mere $2.5 million - a 93 percent decline from the year before. "That was a real shocker," said Negroponte, adding that it forced the foundation to slash its $12 million annual budget. "We will reduce ourselves to running at closer to $5 million," he said.
So OLPC's refocusing is not due to "tough economic times" faced by other nonprofits, as Negroponte led us to believe in his email.
The half staff sack is directly related to competitive pressures brought on by OLPC's success in G1G1 2007. When a nonprofit can sell 185,000 laptops, generating $37 million in revenue in only six weeks, commercial laptop manufactures get their own game on.
Now a plethora of 4P Computers from Asus, Acer, and others are crowding into the "netbook" category that OLPC started with the XO.
In 2008 potential donors and consumers had a greater choice in laptops that, unlike the XO, are adult-centric in form factor, software, and support. In fact, here's a dirty little secret from the OLPC News headquarters: Santa didn't G1G1 this Christmas.
He bought a HP 1035NR Netbook for the wife to use while nursing our daughter. To quote Negroponte himself:
"We're not the newest story in town. The novelty has worn off.".