XO Laptop Price Increase & Maybe Decrease


In the Boston Globe article "Cheaper Cheap Laptop Promised" we have Nicholas Negroponte giving an interesting spin to what amounts to a price increase he kept out of the news till now:

olpc price
Negroponte and his XO laptops
But last year, the foundation quietly raised the price of its proprietary XO laptop from $188 to $204, more than twice what the foundation originally hoped to charge. Negroponte said four countries that bought XO laptops last year - Mongolia, Rwanda, Peru and Uruguay - had agreed to pay $204 for each laptop. That is $16 more than the laptop's 2007 price of $188.

So while OLPC, and Negroponte himself, publicly stated the XO price was $188 throughout 2008, (see Google for all the $188 press mentions), he was really selling the XO laptop for $204. Then he teases with the long-standing, yet never achieved goal of a cheaper XO, to which Hiawatha Bray gives a sweet response:

Now Negroponte is promising to cut the price of the XO by $24, to $180. "I believe it will go down another $20 soon," he added. But even at $160, the laptop will cost far more than its original $100 target.

Mine response to this price change: Who cares? At $204, $188, or $160, if the minimum order is 1,000 units, OLPC is still not supporting small deployments, and therefore reverting back to its failed large deployment only approach. In fact, SJ may just have the right recommendation for pilots:

People starting small school pilots that need 10-30 laptops are encouraged to use Sugar in emulation on existing computer labs or other low-cost laptops.

Like maybe a $300 Asus Eee PC from Amazon??

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Basically since no one can get XO computers in another country unless they get 1000 units, the XO is a not a viable option for most local iniatives. Small scale testing prior to buying large scale is not possible! I have seen in Colombia the past 2 years that when people ask about how to get an XO, I have to tell them it is not available there. Hey, presently both the Intel Classmate and Asus Eee PC is available at local stores. People will not wait for OLPC to start selling the XO in Colombia. They have learned that they will have to buy whatever the local store sells them regardless of the quality!

With the work of Sugar on a stick, there is hope that some elements of the XO can be made available to others that previously could only find Sugar on an XO. Let's face it, a 20 watt Classmate beats an 10 watt XO, when the XO is not sold in your country! Sugar could soon be available for both!

Hopefully, we'll soon know if there's a market for Sugar on a stick.

The bottom line is OLPC, as presently configured and funded, can't compete on a sustained basis with companies like Asustek, Intel, HP, etc.

OLPC has demonstrated there's a market for XO like computers and now the Big Guys are starting to feed.

That eee PC you link to is $350, not $300.

In Colombia, I could buy last week an Intel Classmate for $323 using the Intel Atom Processor and having XP on it. I have a picture of it, but can't add a photo when I comment here. The price for a Linux version would be even less!

"OLPC has demonstrated there's a market for XO like computers and now the Big Guys are starting to feed."

"The price for a Linux version would be even less!"

The one remaining useful change that OLPC could motivate would be to prove the market for netbooks with linux installed. My view of sugar, so far, is pretty dim. Still, i'd be happy if the "Big Guys" say a value-added opportunity there and started shipping any sort of OSS if requested by the customer.

This would require enough customers asking for OSS (and MS not paying folks off to block such a move). It's a stretch, but this could make a huge long-term positive impact on the market.

Developing nations need OSS to aid in self-determination. It seems to me that MS's "software rental" model would drain resources from countries that can't afford to pay this sort of rent...

I have always said that the XO should be made available on the widest possible basis in order to succeed.

Reverting to large deployments will make OLPC fail.

I'm surprised that there have been no (at least to my knowledge) "group buy" initiatives. That seems like a logical way to work around OLPC's 1000 unit minimum. I suppose the trick would be finding a broker that groups would feel safe prepaying to raise the requisite ~$200,000.

@Wayan - I seriously think you might be able to pull this off. You likely have enough good will among OLPC enthusiasts and pilot projects to be trusted to collect money for a group buy. You could even solicit donations through this site to help cover shipping and other overhead or to mitigate some of the cost of the XOs themselves. Of course that would be a huge undertaking logistically and more than understandable if you weren't comfortable making that kind of commitment.

Just my 2¢...

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