OLPC Programs are a $25 Billion Dollar Global Economy



Have you ever thought about to total investment in one laptop per child programs worldwide? Robert Fadel has and came up with an interesting calculation. His estimate: that one laptop per child programs - from XO laptops to Classmate PCs to EeePCs used in one-to-one educational programs - exceeds $2.5 billion dollars over the last three years:

OLPC reports a worldwide total of 2.1 million machines. That's $420 million. Intel similarly (too similarly) documents 2.5 million Classmates at a reported cost of $300-$400 per unit. Conservatively, that's another $750 million. A further claim suggests that "Argentina's Conectar Igualdad program - will distribute 3 million Intel Classmate PCs to secondary school students and teachers by 2010 - [sic]". The program's website actually places the number at 400,000 in 2010 (Intel reported 630,000 in early 2011) and a goal of a further 1.5m by the end of this year. The numbers in Portugal could be off as well, with Intel reporting 750,000 currently, while the country program site reports 550,000 by the end of 2011.

I doubt it's unreasonable to suggest that OLPC and Intel represent 50% of the spending, and likely a higher percentage of the total laptops deployed in "one laptop per child"-like programs. Apple, Dell and others price higher and are more active in the US and Western-Europe focused (more on that prevalence later). Reliably the hardware only olpc (lower-case) economy should be estimated at $2.5 billion over the past three years.

His estimates are good enough to then contemplate the total olpc-related investments, including training, content, Internet, support, etc. If we apply previous Total Cost of Ownership calculations, then olpc program expenditures worldwide are over $25 billion dollars!

At that, Nicholas Negroponte should be proud.


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