Negroponte pushes forward with nutty laptop idea

Posted on September 30, 2005 
Filed Under Uncategorized

A notebook for every child at US$100 a pop? Sounds crazy? MIT Media Lab guru Negroponte is pushing forward with this idea.

It should be out in November, he says. The tail-end of this story addresses the real-world realities.

Negroponte says his team is addressing ways this project could be undermined.

For example, to keep the $100 laptops from being widely stolen or sold off in poor countries, he expects to make them so pervasive in schools and so distinctive in design that it would be “socially a stigma to be carrying one if you are not a student or a teacher.” He compared it to filching a mail truck or taking something from a church: Everyone would know where it came from.

As a result, he expects to keep no more than 2 percent of the machines from falling into a murky “gray market.”

And unlike the classic computing model in which successive generations of devices get more gadgetry at the same price, Negroponte said his group expects to do the reverse. With such tweaks as “electronic ink” displays that will require virtually no power, the MIT team expects to constantly lower the cost.

After all, in much of the world, Negroponte said, even $100 “is still too expensive.”

You got that right bro. And boy do you NOT get business realities.

The specs for the product is limp at best. 500MHz processor running on Linux with flash memory storage of 1 GB? Ho hum.

Negroponte expects his nonprofit One Laptop Per Child to get 5 million to 15 million of the machines in production, when “children in Brazil, China, Egypt, Thailand, South Africa are due to begin getting them.”

Great choice of countries. Watch China clone the machine in five minutes if there is a demand. And watch Thailand, Brazil and S. Africa ship half of it to other countries at profit.

In the second year — apparently — when Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney hopes to start buying them for all 500,000 middle and high-school students in this state — Negroponte envisions “100 million to 150 million being made.” He boasts that this would surpass the world’s existing annual production of laptops, which is about 50 million.

Yeah, and so Dell, HP, Apple, Toshiba, Acer, Lenovo, and every other major brand on this planet will just be sitting on their hands watching the carpet go from under their feet.

And we’re not even talking about horrendous service problems these machines may be faced with. Nice try Mr Negroponte, but this pig just won’t fly.


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