Originally called “the $100 laptop,” the XO is a computer built by the OLPC non-profit started by MIT-guy Nicholas Negroponte with the intent to provide One Laptop Per Child across the entire planet. Lofty goal? Sure. Impossible? Definitely. Still worth trying? What do you think? The problem is–well, what is always the problem when someone tries to do something good without any apparent ulterior motive? People hate you for it. In this case, everyone is going nuts about how the $100 laptop has “just” had its price hiked to $200.
Just yesterday, Jim Finkle wrote an article for Reuters pointing out, quite cynically how “A computer developed for the world’s poor children, dubbed “the $100 laptop,” has reached a milestone: It is now selling for $200.”
The catch is that the XO had it’s price hiked a couple of weeks ago and despite that has already been put in front of handfuls of poor kids in poor countries, runs on a tiny amount of power, is environmentally friendly, has a huge battery life, can do all the basic stuff you expect from computers and has inspired copycats like the eeePC from Asus. So why the hate?
That’s a good question. Especially since there is good news to report about the XO. Agam Shah reports for IDGNS that the OLPC folks are working on a new “supercharger” that will power 15 XO batteries at once and run off of cows and yo-yos.
OK, so it’s not the most dramatic story in the world, but it seems odd to report 2-week-old news that makes the OLPC folks seem like losers when there’s positive news and they’re actually doing a good thing for humanity. Hell, even if they fail and never ship a single laptop, they’re still doing something good for humanity by drawing attention to the unmet need Third World kids have for computers.
UPDATE 2:11AM: BBC News just reported that Uruguay has just ordered 100,000 XOs for children in Uruguayan schools. The article says “The South American country has bought 100,000 of the machines for schoolchildren aged six to 12,” and that “A further 300,000 may be purchased to provide a machine for every child in the country by 2009.”
Even more positive news.