One Commercial Opportunity Per Child

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OLPC XO Nasdaq Math?
What if you sat down with a marketing representative from Coca Cola or Adidas or any of the many multinational companies and offered them unprecedented exposure to children in the developing world? The next generation of consumers who are increasing their purchasing power and branded products consumption at exponential rates.

Do you think they would salivate at the opportunity to shape buying habits of tomorrow's affluents? That's the question Nat Torkington posed on O'Riley Radar with this conclusion:

We should see some things:
  • Companies sponsoring curriculum materials. ("Jenda has five delicious smoky Marlboro cigarettes ...")
  • Companies building applications such as casual games for the OLPC platform (e.g., by taking the OLPC programming tutorial at OSCON)
  • Companies stepping up to fund the distribution of these machines to kids, as a way of raising brand awareness.
But I haven't seen these things. For example, signups at the OLPC tutorial aren't huge and I haven't seen any reports of companies stepping up to help create branded content.

Is the success of the OLPC too uncertain? Is the success of the OLPC kids too uncertain? Or is it just that nobody has thought of the filthy capitalist implications before?

While I still believe that Nicholas Negroponte and the rest of the OLPC leadership would rise up in revolt if a company tried to brand anything on the XO-1 and distort the OLPC mission, Nat does pose an interesting alternate XO financing option.

ebay sales olpc
OLPC XO BTest-1 Dev Board: $20

While Nat's thinking, two people are making money from OLPC today. First, jayjaya29 has OLPC sales on eBay now, a live auction for an OLPC developer board and current bidding is just $21, significantly below the "$100 laptop" marketing price. Of course, the functionality is significantly below a BTest-4 too. But as the auctioneer says:

Perfect for an extremely small form factor computer with low power consumption. With a little bit of creativity, you could have this small machine run anywhere.
Then Neil Cauldwell is auctioning off his "Enterprise Theme" WordPress theme to aid the OLPC Foundation:
If anyone bids, the money will go to the OLPC Foundation (excluding eBay/PayPal fees - P&P will be free), and the winner of the auction will gain exclusive rights to the theme.

I have absolutely no expectations of how much this will raise - but either way, it’s fun to auction off my own hand-made blog theme to help a very worthy cause;

If you too find OLPC a worthy cause, and like to help out the OLPC Foundation directly, and maybe even keep children from learning math from lessons based in McDonalds, buying Big Mac's and Pepsi, you can donate money to OLPC directly. The website now takes online donations through Google checkout and PayPal.

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Thanks, Wayan. I spent months learning to code in XHTML & CSS, and the Enterprise theme represents all that work. Being a recent graduate (four years of University) with no income, I thought it'd be more sensible to auction off something potentially worth money, rather than give my savings to charity. However, you've suggested my auction is a commercial opportunity (how is covering costs, removing Adsense, and spending weeks working on something before auctioning it off for OLPC in anyway commercial?) so, I'm now paying the eBay and Paypal fees myself, and EVERYTHING generated by the auction goes to OLPC.

Thanks again



You're auction is commercial in the sense that you are trading on the OLPC name to raise the price of the sale. But don't mistake that for criticism, as I hope you note the connection between your charity action and the OLPC donation suggestion that I wrote about next.

In my opinion, I like your auction better than jayjaya29's because you are pointing out that all the proceeds (and your coverage of fees) will go to support the OLPC Foundation. If OLPC News ran on WordPress, I'd bid on your design and if I won, use it for a day to show support for your idea.

Speaking of Auctions, I thought all the laptop Dev boards provided to experimenters were a loan and not specifically the property of the user.

Should they not be given back to OLPC rather than sold off and the seller reaping financial rewards? Yes Iknow its only $20 so far but I wonder what the bidding will be at 5 minutes from finish?

If I'd known I could do this I'd have ordered a dozen kits and put them on eBay.

"You're auction is commercial in the sense that you are trading on the OLPC name to raise the price of the sale."

seems a strange take on life, as the objective is to raise money FOR the OLPC project, so it is hardly a parasitic action.


That's exactly what I thought, Phil - if it wasn't for OLPC, I wouldn't be holding the auction.


I don't think the auction is parasitic - which implies a negative connotation. I do think the auction will raise more money because he is donating proceeds to OLPC. Philanthropic auctions generally raise more money than other kinds of auctions.

As I've already said, it's a neural observation, not a criticism.

NoSouth Park Here!

I think you are going a bit to fast. We alredy are havig the Uragury Photo op ; Your cow birthing on Utube. Did you metion that in your news ?

I think a much more traditioal method should be taken. The OLPC folks do not seem to have eough freedom in the right drection once they get the laptops.

First let the birds fly then attach a message to it's foot is what I always say! Well any way if any one would like to try agian at OLPC try this way:


£2.20?! It looks like I'll be donating a little money on top of the closing bid. 'Enterprise' theme indeed....

"Philanthropic auctions generally raise more money than other kinds of auctions."

Wayan - let's just say, I'm glad I'm not a professional WordPress blog theme designer! £2.20?!

Here is a video of someone making polo shirts with a marlboro cigarette packages. I guess he had a ton of free time on his hands to come up with this idea.