Early adopters, geeks, technology bargain hunters and idealists rejoice: One Laptop Per Child is opening its high tech stash to private consumers, at least temporarily, in an effort to help get their project off the ground now that production has begun. For two weeks beginning November 12th, you can purchase one of their green and white, portable, solar powered, open source laptops with the super-bright screen, for yourself for a tax-deductible $399, and a second laptop will be given to a needy kid somewhere else.
The One Laptop Per Child program has had its share of critics and setbacks over the past several years. For one thing, the “$100 laptop” is now the “$188 laptop” due to parts costs. Now a bigger problem is that that countries are dragging their collective feet on handshake agreements to purchase the laptops. Nicholas Negroponte, the guy behind OLPC, tells Newsweek,
“I had a handshake agreement with the leaders of three countries–Thailand, Nigeria and Brazil–all agreeing to buy a million laptops. That got it going. But between a handshake and a closed deal is a world of difference. Everybody has a pit in their stomach when it comes to going first.”
It’s not that the laptops are poorly made—in fact, a lot of the technology is more advanced than what you can get on the market today, and includes a stylus area, a built-in camera, and greatly increased wifi range. But the ambition and somewhat counterintuitive nature of the project continue to make it a difficult sell. (The most common knee-jerk criticism we hear/read from skeptics—and even countries—runs along the line of, “Poor kids need food, not access to the Internet!”)
“Give One, Get One” [Newsweek]