OLPC: XO To Go Retail In 2008!!


Post Edit:

BBC: "Public can purchase $100 laptop"
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):
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."

(Google News headline screen-cap here)

Original Post:

Michail Bletsas

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.

"The will get the e-mail address of the kid in the developing world that they have, in effect, sponsored."

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: "
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."

olpc ebay sales

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.

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Yes I will if it will be available in UK.

Put me down for two - two dozen!

Yes I will.
Miles more fun and useful to me than an iPhone :)

Seems like this will become an important part of the "OLPC business plan".

yup, will definately buy one! i honestly cant see any reason why i shouldnt!

I'm excited about this news!

I'll buy at least one - either directly through ebay or by taking advantage of OLPCNews' friendly offer. (We'll see whether the logistic hassles to organize the bulk buy don't prove to be too much.)

Hell Yeah, I'll get one (two). It looks like the perfect computer for our four-year old daughter, although she told me this morning (as I took my laptop to work, depriving her of her 'starfall.com' fix) that she wants a Barbie computer that will be hers alone and it will be pink. So green may not cut it, but I'll try....

I'd donate one to buy one. This would make a perfect kitchen/bathroom/back porch computer, being very cheap, slightly rugged, and visible in daylight conditions. Also a good, tiny machine to play around with linux on, or hardware mod projects. I'd be especially appreciative if it came in colors besides green.

Well thats the kids and the geeks covered.

Sounds like the ideal kitchen recipe computer. Very handy in the lounge to look up the TV schedule. Maybe I can be out the back on the hammock streaming the cricket to it.
I can get one for my mechanic friend that always has oily hands so he can log in to the on-line spare parts department.
The USB port might allow a handheld barcode scanner. A perfect machine for in-store stocktaking. Maybe even fit them to shopping trolleys and run in-store advertising as your scan your own shopping.

Aren't computers amazing.

In what appears to be the quickest retraction ever, the story has changed - AGAIN.

This time it is literal. Not only has the content and tone of the BBC article changed completely (without any sort of notice in the story that it has been edited) but even the title of the piece has changed.

Unfortunately, I have no record of the old text. Funnily enough, I though that since this was a BBC article, it was probably legitimate...

Did anyone catch the original text? If so please email it to us (david at olpcnews dot com).

I think its a great idea and one I suggested to them (I imagine many others did as well before and after me I am not that smart) anyway I would buy as many as I could afford as often as I could afford them (I really wish they could have kept the hand crank) I can see these being almost a status symbol. Someone see this on the counter for a POS machine at a grocery store knows that somewhere some kid also got one of these machines. Sends a very good message and MUCH better than hoping countries will buy them. I wish it could be sooner than 2008 though. One idea do it all at once. IE wait till half a million people place there order and then you manufacturer a million units. Simple (in theory)

I'm amazed that they are even 'thinking' about this. Surely it's a no brainer. The sponsership idea is great as it helps get more machines out there and hopefully build a real global community. Plus the more machines out there the more cool things and software will be hacked on them.
Can't wait to get mine

Of course I will gladly buy one for me and be happy to donate the other one.
Why shouldn't OLPC follow this possible (logical) plan? Wouldn't it be completely ignorant and dogmatic not to stick to it - for whatever idealistic reason?

There's no need to spend time considering the pro's and con's of selling this computer to the general public. Why? For EXACTLY the same reasons they are not being peddled to developed nations: buyers will ask legtimate questions BEFORE buying and then the truth about these computers and their great limitations will be exposed. Why would anyone pay $150 for what is essentially a re-packaged 10-year old machine? (in terms of computer power/storage/software).

Sorry, my post above should have read:

There's no need to spend time considering the pro's and con's of selling this computer to the general public. It won't be offered up for sale. Why? For EXACTLY the same reasons they are not being peddled to developed nations: buyers will ask legtimate questions BEFORE buying and then the truth about these computers and their great limitations will be exposed. Why would anyone pay $150 for what is essentially a re-packaged 10-year old machine? (in terms of computer power/storage/software).

Yes -yes-yes I WILL !!!
A really great idea.
I am going to buy 10 and 10 if you like Yrs. Uli

"At last".. Im gonna get one (two) of these sweat tools. Im prolly be in africa by then, and this is going to be great on the field. Btw, found this wonderfull thing who has a real chance of changing peoples lives, four days ago, checkout kiva.org (im not affiliatet with kiva, just wanted too make that clear)

FYI The writer of the BBC article explains the confusion:

I will buy three. I think that this is a great program and i'd be proud to support it.

If they make it available in the US, I'll buy 4, even if 2 of them go to developing nations. How soon will they be made avialable to US consumers?

I'll take 2 (4). Great project!!


there. The XO is definitely very interesting for travels to remote regions (eg. Madagascar, where we have been recently), therefore I want one.

And i would be happy having to buy at least a second one for a kid down there! Connecting with makes the idea even brighter.



I will buy a set and I know my roommate will as well. The idea of directly putting a laptop in the hands of a child is good enough for me, but the ability to have the computer and contact the child is even better! I would enjoy the prospect of having a strong computer to cart around with me as well as having a line to the outside world. Who know, I may buy one for my brother. He joined the Peace Corp after graduating FSU school of Social Work to teach health education in eastern Europe and I want to do the same but with land use management using my GIS degree. I know that the XO wont run spatial analysis software but it would give my brother a sturdier laptop to travel with.

The central library in Portland, Oregon, kicks everyone off their internet terminals after one hour. One hundred, $200 laptops - available for checkout - would be cheaper.

It would also a great platform for developing services around our city-wide FREE WiFi network from MetroFi.

One on every bus stop. Solar powered. Put us down for one thousand.

I would definately be willing to buy a set As a matter of fact, I would love to organize a fund raiser with my son's school to buy for classrooms.