XO Tablet Supposedly Becomes Available on June 1

   
   
   
   
   

Resumen en español al final del artículo

Three weeks ago I mentioned that OLPC Association has been remarkably quiet about the Android-based Walmart XO Tablet which it had introduced at CES 2013 in early January. Since then things have progressed a little bit with the Web site receiving a bit of a facelift.

Then yesterday Engadget posted an article and video (embedded below) about the XO Tablet. The 8-minute video provides a good introduction to the device and software so I recommend watching it.

In terms of availability it is said that mass production of the XO Tablet recently started and that it will be sold on walmart.com starting on June 1. A month later it should also become available in a limited number of physical stores. Again no information on pricing was revealed.

Now given OLPC Association's track record and the previously discussed March launch date going by without as much as a sound I remain skeptical (hence the supposedly in the title) until I actually see it on walmart.com myself.

Beyond that I'm generally still not sure what to make of the XO Tablet. Strategically it very clearly is a move to capitalize on the OLPC brand. It's also obvious that despite its planned use in Uruguay the XO Tablet is a run-of-the-mill Android device that has little to do with the broader vision and work that OLPC has done in the past 8 years. Yes, there's the dreamy software interface, some content partnerships, and cute green protective cover. But it's still a commercial and US-centric product that will compete with a hundred other tablets for virtual and physical shelf-space rather than even trying to make a meaningful impact on children's education.

Or I am missing a big piece of the picture? What reasons do you see for why anyone would buy an XO Tablet rather than a low-cost tablet by the likes of established consumer brands such as Acer, Archos, Amazon, Asus, Google or Samsung?


Resumen en español: En este video de Engadget se presente el XO Tablet y esta mencionado que llegara a walmart.com el primero de Junio. Pero aparte de esto la verdad es que yo todavía no estoy seguro de qué hacer con la XO Tablet. ¿Quizas me estoy perdiendo una gran parte de la imagen? ¿Qué razones le ve a por qué alguien iba a comprar una XO Tablet en lugar de una tablet de bajo costo de una de las marcas de consumo establecidos como Acer, Archos, Amazon, Asus, Google y Samsung?

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Much more more than just a crack in the facade.

Like any project, One Laptop per Child has had its ups ... [more]

18 Comments

I long ago (here, actually, almost exactly 5 years ago: http://www.olpcnews.com/implementation/plan/rethinking_olpc_distribution.html ) argued that they should have allowed the XO-1 to be offered for sale. This would have (at the time!) given the team income to spend on further development and deployment (or even training and curricula support), expanded the userbase to iron out weird usability problems, and help improve the core product by keeping it competitive with the netbook market it created.

If the XO Tablet can't compete with commercial products, and isn't as good, then why are we selling it to education ministries in developing countries?

I'm excited by the fact that they are putting this on the market, I think it will only help - perhaps painfully in the short term, but positively over time.

I don't see how selling the XO Tablet in Walmarts will help in any way. Both in terms of the device and the (educational) context it's too far removed from the realities that the 2 million or so XO users deal with. Plus if that weren't the case OLPC doesn't have the capacity or resources to do much with that sort of input.

The sale to the US(or EU) market would have required the kind of logistics that were later used when OLPC asked Amazon to help. The other way would lead to even more bad PR. Plus the earlier builds were not good enough to provide something usable unless the people had some idea what alpha software was, otherwise more bad PR. And like what C said, unless there was a tight loop to input and process feedback, its would have been for naught.

As for the walmart tablet, I see limited if no benefit to OLPC/Sugar Labs. It might play on a halo effect of peoples memories about the original OLPC goals and ads. Without the green cover, its a general android device with some content partners. I'd have rather seen the content partners work with Ceibal or OLPC-AU to create and fine-tune content but OLPC-F might want CC licenses. I'd consider it a way to get funds for OLPC-F but without a 50,000+ purchase, it might not be a big help.

Maybe the real switch to consider is the reference to Howard Gardner and the (pedagogical) theory of Multiple Intelligences?

I somehow preferred when S. Papert and A. Kay were the sources of inspiration.

Phew, you certainly know your developmental psychologist whereas I had to look up Howard Gardner on Wikipedia... :-)

At 6:00am on day one (is it day zero) folks from our Presbyterian Church ordered a total of SIX Give One Get One, which we still have. Of course some had to endure the delivery mix-up which was unable to handle two lines of address (that is, my name, the name of the church, and the address of the church) for months. However, our team took those six to Kenya (Kibwezi Educational Centre) the summer (July) of 2008 and then the following year (2009 summer) a college team delivered one hundred (we had twenty team members, each with back pack, five per back pack. To go through security, there were a total of one hundred trays - in addition to things like belts, shoes, keys and so forth. Delivery is documented on line by a film crew from the Netherlands ("OLPC Kibwezi"). When we installed the hundred provided by OLPC (grant), we brought the six back to the United States, where they are being used for a few years by an after-school (once a week) tutoring program (Elementary, through sixth grade) where generally the students who attend are children in immigrant families (such as war zones). This summer 2013 August we are going to another part of Kenya (Njoro, near Nakuru) and intend to take what we can have by then with us. This is a program with Orphans and Vulnerable Children. I will probably take a look at the tablet, should they come through with it.

Bob, thanks a lot for sharing your experiences!

More the initial (middle) 2009 trip at
http://olpckibwezi.blogspot.com/
No, not a part of support, although in the past I have followed some email lists communication including development and especially what folks do New Zealand. Since the Kenya work is at most one month at a time (2008, 2009, 2011) my greatest time has been with the tutoring after-school in U.S. (Burke, VA) once a week. I have also done some small amount of coordination with Sandra Thaxter who has made repeated trips to another place at some distance in Kenya (Taita Hills).

Is you expierences and use of the XO-1's documented anywhere? Are you part of the OLPC Support gang or on any OLPC list. It sounds like you have hard-won experience to add to the OLPC community.

Now I have watched the entire video. OLPC 1.0 G1G1 was designed for collaboration especially using the mesh technology. If I get TWO of these now, I wonder what sort of collaboration (machine to machine) is possible this time around - especially without internet connection (while technically possible in Kenya, there is the expense - especially for poor) -- and even where there is no WiFi access point (or if there IS WiFi but without connection to internet service).

It is June and I am looking. Is there (yet) a Link - to order the XO touchpad through Walmart?

Bob, I also looked around yesterday and couldn't find it. No idea what's going on...

Amazing that there are people so clueless, they actually believed Negroponte's most recent lie.

Guys, you are decent people trying to do the right thing. Spend yor time and effort on something meaningful - why serve people and causes that feed you lies and serve no purpose than benefit it's leaders and their cronies?

So....again.....is there any way to buy 20 or so XOs besides old ones on ebay?

no way that I know. We still have five that we intend to take along early August, this time to Njoro, Kenya (near Nakuru)

i for one cannot understand the OLPC attitude toward selling only to governments. I would like to obtain an OLPC XO-1.5, new, to give to a precocious child who is working at the level of a four or five year old even though she is not yet two. I would happily pay the price, but there is no way to order one at any price and apparently, they might not be able to deliver even if one could place an order.

It is a very nice little box, and it has all of the bells and whistles one could ask for. But the device is always being changed, with unconscionable delays, while children all over the world wait.

In addition, though I have no connection with the organisation, I am beginning to feel that either it is well-intentioned but inept, or possibly yet another showpiece charitable effort by an elite bunch of swellheads who are more interested in applause and photo ops than in actually delivery of equipment to those who most need it.

Twenty years ago, the BBC (Timex-Sinclair) was quickly and efficiently delivered to every school child in Britain. I cannot understand why anyone with even minimal organisational skills at all has not frozen the design and placed an order with any of a hundred Southeast Asian companies. There is not one reason on god's green earth that these things should not be pouring off the assembly line like cheap toasters.

In short, to OLPC, I say, "Extract digit!"

still watching, waiting. We have five G1 G1 and our team leaves August 4 - Njoro, Kenya

Same here. I e-mailed OLPC a while ago to see what's going on but haven't heard back from them... :-/

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