Looks like someone's had a quick word with the BBC... The article linked below has now radically changed in tone - even the original title "Public can purchase $100 laptop" has gone. Where before the article contained statements of bald fact, now we see a liberal smattering of 'coulds', 'possiblys', and 'are considerings'. Ars Technica tracked down some of the original text (thanks to Caesar on the Ars Technica forums):Original Post:For the record, the BBC has completely changed their article now, and did not post a correction notice. This was the original lede:
"Technology editor, BBC News website, Las Vegas -- The backers of the One Laptop Per Child project plan to release the machine on general sale next year. But customers will have to buy two laptops at once - with the second going to the developing world."
At last we have confirmation that OLPC will be selling XOs to Western consumers! According to an interview with the BBC published today, Michalis Bletsas, chief connectivity officer for OLPC, says that OLPCs will go on sale to the public some time in 2008. However there's a catch - you'll have to buy two.
After purchasing your XO on eBay, you will be automagically provided with the email address of the lucky recipient of the other laptop. According to the article:
The aim is to connect the buyer of the laptop with the child in the developing world who receives the machine.It appears that these sales will run through a separate charitable foundation - perhaps the 2B1 Foundation - and Bletsas confirms that this organisation will work with eBay to sell and distribute the machines: "
"The will get the e-mail address of the kid in the developing world that they have, in effect, sponsored."
We're discussing [how to distribute units] with our partner eBay. We need to minimise supply chain cost, which is pretty high in the western world."
Hopefully this clarifies the situation regarding OLPC retail sales once and for all. Despite a few statements to the contrary by Nicholas Negroponte last year, the idea of selling the laptops to Western consumers seemed to have been dismissed out of hand by OLPC.
Reams of early edits (most long gone, but a good few can be seen here) on the OLPC wiki raged at the injustice of such a stance, but the decision seemed to be backed with sound logic; in bypassing the western markets, OLPC would help to prevent (or tightly control at the very least) black market laptop sales.
Then Mike Liveright came up with a clever idea. He decided to create a pledge for those interested in buying OLPC's laptops. Instead of pledgers paying $100 dollars, they would pledge to buy one for $300 with the additional $200 going towards the purchase of laptops for children. The pledge read:
"I will purchase the $100 laptop at $300 but only if 100,000 other will too."As was widely reported, Mike didn't get enough people to bite - less than 4,000 pledged before the pledge expired. When Nicholas Negroponte was asked about the idea by Kevin Manley of USA Today, he reportedly said:
"This site had nothing to do with OLPC, was set up without our knowledge and was not a good idea. Well meaning people can create backfires."What Mike may have achieved over all was a softening of OLPC's stance towards alternative sales models. Clearly, OLPC is not interested in "sales" - it wants to get laptops to every kid in the world and that takes up 99.99% of their efforts.
However, there is a real demand for their product and they seem to be recognising that it would be foolish to ignore the income western sales could generate, thus allowing them to reach their stated aim: one laptop for every child.
Just for the record, I'll be buying
one two. Anyone else going to join me? Let us know in the comments below - maybe we could organise an OLPC News bulk buy.