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OLPC CTO Quits to Commercialize OLPC Technology 168

Posted by Zonk
from the there's-more-money-in-money-than-in-charity dept.
theodp writes "The One Laptop Per Child project suffered a blow Monday, with CTO Mary Lou Jepsen quitting the nonprofit to start a for-profit company to commercialize technology she invented with OLPC (the first of Jepsen's pending OLPC patents was published by the USPTO on Dec. 13). The OLPC project halted consumer sales of the cheap laptop at the end of December."
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OLPC CTO Quits to Commercialize OLPC Technology

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  • by TimHunter (174406) on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @12:00PM (#21874504)

    The OLPC project halted consumer sales of the cheap laptop at the end of November.
    Erm, no. The quoted story is datelined November 25. It's January now, folks. The G1G1 program was extended until yesterday http://www.laptopgiving.org/en/index.php/ [laptopgiving.org].
    • from the article: (which might explain why its mentioned now...)

      Her last day with the organization is Dec. 31, though she will continue consulting with OLPC, according to the e-mail. Dec. 31 is also the end of OLPC's Give One Get One program, in which two XO laptops can be purchased for about US$400, with a user getting one laptop and the other being donated.
    • by lhorn (528432)
      ...And as far as I saw, noone offering this for delivery in Norway.
      What's the matter with the OLPC - is our money smelly?
      I DO want a sturdy, light laptop with long battery life. The Asus EEE comes close, but no cigar due to high energy requirements. I do not want flash or movies, I need web & decent text display, and the ability to stand sand and water in accidental amounts. I would even go G2G1!
  • So in other words, she did an 'ebay' on them.
  • This sounds like this could be great for everyone. Hopefully Jepsen's new career path leads to more and more products having the sorts of technology we're seeing used by the OLPC folks. She can continue innovating as the XO is designed and the OLPC project focuses on manufacturing, distribution, and such and then cooperate with the OLPC people in the future as their product will be updated.
  • I don't know what this means for OLPC, but I hope it doesn't fragment it or hurt the movement. I just bought mine yesterday through the "Give one, get one" (or however that goes). I figure I'll either hack a little on mine or give it to a local family I know who could use it (and not be able to afford it). I think it's a great idea. I know some criticize and go one about providing basic needs--but why can't we do both? These computers represent a quantum leap in education--which will hopefully translat
    • by nuzak (959558)
      > Not to criticize OLPC, but I think they should just keep the "Give One, Get One" program going.

      I don't. By OLPC's own admission, many have been getting DOA or flakey laptops, there is no support, and the cost of dealing with hardware problems on an ad-hoc basis could drive them under. I don't begrudge their program or technology, I'm just pointing out that G1G1 cannot ignore market realities -- and shouldn't participate in it unless they're prepared to jack up the price in order to afford it.
      • by sumdumass (711423)
        I forget the term for it, but some charities operate businesses aimed at crowds not in need of their charity in order to fund the charities they are involved with. It sounds a lot like this move is going along these lines which should translate to what you suggest, jack up the price in order to afford it so they can participate.

        Personally, I can see a lot of use for Tech in the OLPC project outside laptops. My understanding of the screen is that is doesn't wash out in sunlight so a variety of Fish finders,
    • by DrSkwid (118965)
      No you've got an educational laptop, you can find out what a quantum leap is.
  • Initial Reaction (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JamesRose (1062530)
    My initial reaction was "What the hell, you theiving bastard stealing technology from a non-profit organization" But when you look at it, what difference does it make going out and selling these cheap laptops for profit, firstly the main selling point is gone, and the market is gone, so its just another cheap laptop- all be it with a littl einteresting technology, but nonetheless, atleast here in the UK that market has already been entered (asus eepc) so, betrayal- probably morally rather than contractually
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jc42 (318812)
      My initial reaction was "What the hell, you theiving bastard stealing technology from a non-profit organization" ...

      So have you read the news that the patent in question is owned by the OLPC project? The report that she's stealing something seems to be pure calumny. If anything, she's working on developing the parallel retail marketing that so many people have been suggesting. And if successful, her company will be paying license royalties to the OLPC project.

      Does anyone know differently? It'd be interes
  • It Makes Sense (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bmartin (1181965) on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @12:05PM (#21874554)
    A person claiming responsibility for some of the XO's innovations has left the OLPC in order to be compensated for her inventions. I don't see the problem with this. The power consumption technologies are amazing; hard drives, processors, and displays all consume a lot of power.

    My laptop only runs about 40 minutes at full bore (i.e., if I disable all of the power saving features). There is much work to be done in this area. I'd like to see a huge transition from HDD to solid state disks (i.e., 2.5" and 3.5" flash-like drives), as well as from CISC to RISC processors, especially for servers running on the x86 architecture. The former is probably more likely. HDD pales in comparison to SSD for reliability, performance, and power consumption. We already have small devices that run on flash memory; why can't we use similar technology for laptops in the future?
    • Re:It Makes Sense (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MMC Monster (602931) on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @12:16PM (#21874642)
      Frankly, I'm surprised someone hasn't commercialized the OLPC hardware/software combination yet.

      The specs are free, and the hardware is quite impressive (battery life and durability wise). Sell a laptop for $200 that can do internet access and you will likely sell-out to the Walmart crowd.
      • Re:It Makes Sense (Score:4, Interesting)

        by turgid (580780) on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @03:33PM (#21876044) Journal

        Frankly, I'm surprised someone hasn't commercialized the OLPC hardware/software combination yet.

        Look at what intel and Microsoft have already tried to do to the OLPC. Do you think they'd stand back and let anyone else have a go?

        • by jc42 (318812)
          Look at what intel and Microsoft have already tried to do to the OLPC. Do you think they'd stand back and let anyone else have a go?

          Also, Intel and Microsoft are making some good money on their laptops, which have a fairly high markup (almost as large as Apple's ;-). They are probably looking with horror on the prospect of what an OLPC-like machine will do to their bottom line.

          It could be interesting to read about what pressures Intel and MS have been able to put on other vendors to block the sale of machi
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by MacTO (1161105)

      A person claiming responsibility for some of the XO's innovations has left the OLPC in order to be compensated for her inventions.

      The main problem that I see: she has benefited from another purse while developing this technology, then kept the patents for her self to benefit on. It may be acceptable in a human-eat-human world, but it is far from charitable. Maybe it would have been better for her to move on and develop better technology, then patent and profit from that. For example, that XO display has a number of benefits over the competition but still has deficiencies. With her knowledge of the original, perhaps she could have

      • Re:It Makes Sense (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @01:37PM (#21875166)
        The main problem that I see: she has benefited from another purse while developing this technology, then kept the patents for her self to benefit on. It may be acceptable in a human-eat-human world, but it is far from charitable. Maybe it would have been better for her to move on and develop better technology, then patent and profit from that. For example, that XO display has a number of benefits over the competition but still has deficiencies. With her knowledge of the original, perhaps she could have gone on to develop one with a higher contrast reflective mode. (As an example.) That way at least she is doing something outside of the context of the OLPC project to add value, without straight off stealing the goods.

        How? We have no idea what the agreement between her and OLPC was; and as another poster pointed out the patent is assigned to OPLC - not her. I would guess tehre has been some sort of licensing agreement reached between her and OLPC that both find reasonable and beneficial to avoid nasty lawsuits.

        She, understandably, wants to make some money off of her ideas; while still benefiting OPLC (selling components at cost per TFA). Just becasue she was at a non-profit doesn't mean she shouldn't do what many have done before - leave to start their own company. often, non-profits can't or won't commercialize products; and employees leave to fill what they see as a market opportunity; having worked at a non-profit I've seen that happen first hand - in this case; after trying to convince the organization that they could create a for-profit sub and use the profits to fund other activities.
    • Hard drive power consumption is over rated. At MAX, notebook hard drives consume about 2 watts. On an average 60W/hr battery, it could run at max for 30 hours. The performance and power consumption benefits are too meager to justify the cost of SSD. A system designer would get a lot better bang for the buck investigating other power saving measures.
    • I'd like to see a huge transition from HDD to solid state disks (i.e., 2.5" and 3.5" flash-like drives), as well as from CISC to RISC processors, especially for servers running on the x86 architecture.

      Uh, what? Harddisk to solid state disk makes sense for a laptop but the cost/GB is too high, especially if you have racks and racks of servers. As for CISC vs. RISC, it's amazing that people still bring this up. For most modern processors (PowerPC, x86, etc), the CISC and RISC distinction doesn't make any sens

    • Re:It Makes Sense (Score:4, Interesting)

      by asuffield (111848) <asuffield@suffields.me.uk> on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @01:58AM (#21879768)

      from CISC to RISC processors


      That's 1990s stuff. The whole CISC vs RISC thing has been completely obsoleted by modern chip designs, which render the distinction meaningless. RISC was a solution to a problem that no longer exists (and CISC was nothing more than the lack of a solution).

      You can build CPUs fast or low power. For ia32 CPUs built fast, see Intel and AMD. For them built low-power, see Via. You can buy laptops with Via chips in them, and they have considerably more battery life. Don't whine when you find out that they won't run Oblivion, or Vista, because they aren't that fast.
    • HDD pales in comparison to SSD for reliability, performance, and power consumption.
      Very true. Except the HDD only accounts for 4 to 7% of power consumption of a laptop, see this link [uiuc.edu], page 8. So it's worthless concentrating just on this part.
    • A person claiming responsibility for some of the XO's innovations has left the OLPC in order to be compensated for her inventions. I don't see the problem with this.

      As long as the OLPC Foundation is never compelled to pay licensing fees to the new corporation for technology originally conceived for OLPC's benefit, I don't see a problem, either.

      Even though I'm eagerly anticipating receiving the reward for my Give One, Get One donation, I know that it's not designed for users like me. If a commercial laptop
  • Or is there just something really distasteful about the way the OLPC was hyped, sucked obscene amounts of funding and ultimately delivered? Media Lab's always had a degree of self-congratulatory hype machine about it, but the OLPC at $200 is way overpriced, way too specialized as far as maintainability, and this little patent trove they've accumulated and will now "sell" to others is just the icing on the cake. This ordinarily wouldn't bother me but its all being done under the guise of helping 'the poor
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by DrSkwid (118965)
      It was a Negroponte project, what did you expect.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by BeanThere (28381)
      It's just you. Seriously, calm down and take a few deep breaths; the sheer awfulness-of-it-all you're seeing everywhere doesn't really exist. It costs $200 because that's about what it costs to build such things with current tech, that's all; it's not such a bad price for what you get; licensing and commercialising the technologies is not evil - on the contrary, by increasing distribution and scale, they can make it cheaper (and there is free market competition now from AO Asus and Intel to keep the prices
    • Re:Is it just me? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Dan Ost (415913) on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @01:29PM (#21875128)
      Have you played with an OLPC yet? These machines are very clearly designed for children, not adults. Nobody with adult size hands could touch type on the keyboard.

      That said, they're great little machines. One of our engineers bought one and we've been playing with it for the last couple of weeks. It's small, light, waterproof, and is quite capable. As far as I can tell, from both the hardware and software standpoints, the OLPC is exactly what they promised that it would be (except it's a little more expensive...hopefully they'll be successful in bringing the price down).
      • by bloosqr (33593)
        I played w/ it for about 30 minutes a few weeks ago. the current version is clearly designed only for children, one might imagine it wouldn't be that hard to design one w/ a proper sized keyboard at some point. It is way too rugged by spec than it really needs to be I think (droppable from X meters, waterproof?) (and simultaneously has noncommodity/support issues, which I suppose may be fixed at some point).

        • too rugged? (Score:2, Interesting)

          by zogger (617870)
          There's a dearth of rugged laptops on the market, just a few and pretty expensive. On the other hand, you can get any number of delicate laptops that commonly turn to junkage within a short time. I think this project has really pushed the envelope and embarrassed other manufacturers into considering similar better/cheaper/tougher machines. It hasn't hurt, put it that way. There are different market segments based on needs and price, we need them all, there is no one sits fits everyone machine. You want expe
        • It is way too rugged by spec than it really needs to be I think (droppable from X meters, waterproof?) (and simultaneously has noncommodity/support issues, which I suppose may be fixed at some point).

          Technology aimed at kids needs to be rugged. Never underestimate the damage potential of a 8 year old hyped up on kool-aide.

          They can drop it and they can accidently poor liquids on it.

        • I played with one too, at a nerd xmas party, and if I was a Kid, I would be jazzed to have it.
      • by jc42 (318812)
        Have you played with an OLPC yet? These machines are very clearly designed for children, not adults. Nobody with adult size hands could touch type on the keyboard.

        Hey, it's much larger than a BlackBerry's keyboard, and look at all the adults that seem to love those. ;-)

        Actually, I have an OLPC sitting on my desk. My hands aren't tiny, and I can (just barely) do the standard touch typing. It was tricky at first, but I'm rapidly getting better at it.

        Now if I could just figure out how the browser's bookmark
      • It's small, light, waterproof, and is quite capable.

        Water resistant, not waterproof. I'm planning to use mine in the kitchen on occasion, and am happy not to have to worry about accidental splashes of liquid onto it, but I sure wouldn't try using it in the bathtub.
  • by gelfling (6534) on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @12:10PM (#21874618) Homepage Journal
    I wonder if there is some way to bootstrap this to get the price of high function cell phones down? After all the high end HTC phones are little more than palmtop computers that have a phone instead of a modem and NIC.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by sumdumass (711423)
      Yea, but the sims reader and the locking device would cost around $800 or so. You would still end up with an over priced phone that doesn't do exactly what you want and you can't take it to another provider when you find out the current one is crap when considering your needs.

      And with that, you still need a quality microphone and headset. The plus side is you could wrap the contents into a box like shape that resembles a womens work boot and get that 80's retro look down pat. The good thing about it, unless
  • Not Necessarily Bad (Score:2, Informative)

    by lansirill (244071)
    She'll continue to consult with OLPC and provide product to OLPC at cost. I think, I may be overlooking something, I'd love to see all of the OLPC tech released into the commercial market this way. It could help drive the manufacturing costs down and get the XO back down to the original $100US per unit goal. I participated in the Buy One, Get One program because I thought the hardware sounded damn handy, despite being configured for children.

    I am all for anything that brings us closer to a similar commercia
  • The "consumer demand" for OLPC is based on its price and novelty, not on its performance or utility. She has jumped ship quite prematurely and her character flaws will soon result in a bitter future for the OLPC project and her own independent ventures.

    If she thinks she can start collecting royalties on the OLPC and get rich, which is what I suspect is her intent, she'll find that it won't pay off nearly as well as she imagines and ultimately, she'll end up selling her patent rights to some company that so
    • by sumdumass (711423)
      What in either article linked makes you think

      If she thinks she can start collecting royalties on the OLPC and get rich, which is what I suspect is her intent,

      The articles reference an email she made that said

      I will continue to give OLPC product at cost, while providing commercial entities products they would like at a profit,

      what she is saying is, you will always have yours but other who want it will pay more for it. Actually, this is somewhat common with charities. They hold business ventures that are co

      • The thing rarely pointing out, as well, as reduce production costs by increasing production and tapping demand.
        She is also moving most of the hardware R&D costs and risks to be supported by for profit company. Leaving the Non-profit organization to concentrate on it's true goal.
        Improved Yields, better QA, all the sorts of things that will happen with a commercial product will mean that OLPC will end up getting a better product for the same price or less.

        Win-Win Indeed
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DrXym (126579)
      The "consumer demand" for OLPC is based on its price and novelty, not on its performance or utility. She has jumped ship quite prematurely and her character flaws will soon result in a bitter future for the OLPC project and her own independent ventures.

      Not true. I have an Asus Eee PC. It's a fantastically useful little laptop. Sure it's not as fast as modern laptops, but its plenty fast enough for web browsing, mail, skype, word processing, even movie playback. The important thing is that it's cheap, smal

  • I don't know the details of the new technology and who deserves to be compensated for it. Frankly, I couldn't care less. What really, really makes me sad is that all of us...the "First World" countries...use so much and have so much, yet we're so goddamned cheap about spreading it around.

    I'll freely admit that I'm pulling a number right out of my ass here, but I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if the total cost of the Iraq invasion (including care for wounded veterans) outstripped the total expend

    • Unfortunately, too many people have this attitude, and it's just very naive. If poverty could be solved by mere money, it would've been solved a long time ago. The real problem is infrastructure. When money is sent, a large proportion ends up in corrupt hands. The problem of poverty is not a lack of money, it's the lack of stable political systems. Or, to put it another way, a lack of stable Capitalism.
      • However, it's darn hard to solve a poverty problem without money.

        The real problems are complex and intertwined. That doesn't mean they can't or shouldn't be addressed. Of course, it's more points politically to serve up simple solutions, and in fact lots of aid is spent to prop up thoroughly corrupt regimes that happen to be useful to first world governments. Moreover, first world corporations benefit from corrupt regimes that can be trusted to deal with any unionization efforts with extreme prejudice

        • Capitalism is largely irrelevant here, since corporations are no more concerned for the general welfare than corrupt governments.

          No, they have opposite goals. Companies by default are concerned solely for their own benefit, and any deviation from that to benefit other people is remarkable charity. Governments by default are concerned for the benefit of their citizens, and any deviation to that to benefit private individuals is corruption.

    • by BeanThere (28381)
      I disagree. Even though I live in a 3rd-world country I disagree. The first world gives *massively* in many many different ways to the third world, seriously.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Your ass is correct. In 2006, the USA spent $23.5 billion [oecd.org] on official development assistance, and $100 billion [boston.com] on the war in Iraq. (Iraq is currently the largest recipient of American aid, and one could debate whether that portion of the aid budget should actually be counted as part of the cost of the war. Before the Iraq war, the largest recipient of aid was Israel.)

      • by fbjon (692006)
        Redirecting money from the Iraq war to charity aid wouldn't solve very much. Not waging wars in the first place might, however.
  • In being nice.

    You might make a living giving yourself away, but you wont make a real profit.
  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @01:04PM (#21874944) Homepage

    OK, they need to get the price down to $100. Instead of selling them in the US at $400 at a 100% profit margin to raise money for charity, they need to just sell the things for $199 commercially and take over the low end market. In a year or two, they'll be down to $99 through sheer volume.

    Those things ought to be in bubble-packs at the local drugstore, alongside the cheap calculators, electronic dictionaries, and other low end electronics. This wouldn't stroke Negroponte's ego, but it would get the things out there in volume. Soon enough, they'd be available all over the world, purely on price.

    Jepsen probably sees this. Negroponte wants to meet with heads of state and be in the press.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by slamb (119285) *

      Those things ought to be in bubble-packs at the local drugstore, alongside the cheap calculators, electronic dictionaries, and other low end electronics. This wouldn't stroke Negroponte's ego, but it would get the things out there in volume. Soon enough, they'd be available all over the world, purely on price.

      They're doing pretty well on volume now. They have a brand-new factory, and last month they planned to ship 150,000, then 80,000-100,000 every month after (source [engadget.com]).

      Where are they going? I just did

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by slamb (119285) *

      OK, they need to get the price down to $100. Instead of selling them in the US at $400 at a 100% profit margin to raise money for charity, they need to just sell the things for $199 commercially and take over the low end market. In a year or two, they'll be down to $99 through sheer volume.

      $100 is in some ways a harder target now than when they originally set it. I don't recall exactly when they first talked of it costing $100, but the dollar has fallen in the last five years (e.g. 25% against the GBP [yahoo.com]),

    • by Rogerborg (306625)

      Damn skippy they need to do that. G1G1 is bullshit; you're not "giving" a 2nd machine, you're just donating $200 to OLPC's overheads. I don't get $200 of warm fuzzy from that. I'd happily pay $200 for an XO, I'd pay $250 if I had to, and I might (after a few beers) splurge $300 on one. But $400 for one device? Never going to happen.

      I find it hard to credit OLPC's claims that they want volume sales when they could ship these things by the millions in Japan and Korea. The XO is ideal for those markets

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jc42 (318812)
        I'd happily pay $200 for an XO, I'd pay $250 if I had to, and I might (after a few beers) splurge $300 on one. But $400 for one device? Never going to happen.

        But apparently lots of people would. If you look at the actual price of things like an iPhone or BlackBerry, i.e. how much of your 2-year contract is for the PDA, you'll find that they are selling for well over $400, and selling quite well. And, as various others have pointed out, the OLPC really is just a slightly larger PDA with a handle. And it's
        • by Rogerborg (306625)
          But OLPC say that they need volume, not profits. $200 per unit would get them far more than twice the volume of $400 per unit. I find their claim hard to credit.
    • Those things ought to be in bubble-packs at the local drugstore, alongside the cheap calculators, electronic dictionaries, and other low end electronics.

      Casio, HP, and TI are still charging $90 for the same models of graphing calculator that I used in high school Trigonometry class fifteen years ago.

      I don't think they'd take very kindly to a $100 general-purpose computer being sold alongside their ancient artifacts.
  • how this as blow to the OLPC project, she is still offering her technology at cost to OLPC and still consulting with them. Also, because of the G1G1 program Haiti, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Cambodia, Mongolia, and Afghanistan now have seed programs, which means that her technology is now on display in at least eight different countries[counting Mexico and Peru].
  • What does it mean when she says she will continue to provide OLPC "at cost?" Does she (or her new company) do the actual manufacturing? If that's the case, it's very honourable. Or does she mean "a reasonable break even patent licensing cost," in which case it's a little "evil."

    Was she hired by OLPC? Yet she retains all the patents for her work?

    The incremental cost for any patent licensing is effectively "0". (Note, I said "incremental" cost. Yes, there's development effort put into it, which may or m
  • by niceone (992278) * on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @01:17PM (#21875026) Journal
    The linked patent may have Jepsen listed as an inventor, but it is assigned to "ONE LAPTOP PER CHILD ASSOCIATION, INC.", so I'm not sure why it's mentioned in the summary. She's can't use that without OLPC's permission.
    • by Pecisk (688001)
      Because it suits with ohh so well started OLPC smearing campaign? It is getting old, period. And I don't care what actual facts are. All I see is two possible scenarios - there are bunch of over jealous geeks who thinks that truth with opinion is better truth than facts OR it is fully paid campaign against OLPC, to smear it's aims, to smear it's creators.

      I simply choose to believe OLC team rather than article submitter who can't right even summary somehow objectively.

      Someone from OLPC team wants to commerci
      • by geekoid (135745)
        "It will revolutionarize laptop and even desktop market"
        No it won't. What it is doing is getting portable computers into new hand, and it is certainly creating a new market. That's cool, but it won't change desktop or laptops.
        • by jc42 (318812)
          ... it is certainly creating a new market. That's cool, but it won't change desktop or laptops.

          We've been playing with a couple of them here at home for a week now, and I'd predict you're wrong. It has a number of things that could really shake up the market.

          One thing is their mesh network. I remember some time back reading a bunch of the original design docs for the original ARPAnet back in the 1960s. There were diagrams of all sorts of military equipment talking to each other wirelessly, without any ce
        • by Pecisk (688001)
          Yeah, mesh network, tickless kernel, sun readable screen, full solution of activities instead of some half-backed OS with Windows style interface...It won't change, yeah, right.
  • WTF (Score:1, Troll)

    by Bananatree3 (872975)
    IANAL but WWFSMD? TMI! TMI!
  • by jrincayc (22260) on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @01:24PM (#21875074) Homepage
    Here are some links:
    http://olpc.osuosl.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1414 [osuosl.org]
    http://lists.laptop.org/pipermail/olpc-open/2007-December/thread.html#459 [laptop.org]

    The general reason given for ending G1G1 was that it was a strain on the OLPC volunteers. See especially Nicole Lee's post http://lists.laptop.org/pipermail/olpc-open/2007-December/000474.html [laptop.org]

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jc42 (318812)
      The general reason given for ending G1G1 was that it was a strain on the OLPC volunteers.

      This makes a lot of sense. Negroponte and the others have been repeatedly emphasizing to their critics that they're not a computer vendor; they're an educational organization. Negroponte is a professor at MIT, not a corporate CEO. They haven't (to my knowledge) come right out and said it, but I expect that they're hoping for some startup companies that can take away the pressure to market this thing. This seems to be
  • The OLPC project halted consumer sales of the cheap laptop at the end of December.
    And for the first time, today, 1/1, I saw a TV ad for OLPC (buy one, get one program). Nice ad. Which ended with "offer ends 12/31". Oops.
  • Price and volume (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rbanffy (584143) on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @06:20PM (#21877196) Homepage Journal
    If the OLPC is ever to reach the US$ 100 target price (even if we give it the adjustment for a shrinking dollar) it is via production volume of its key parts. Making them available to other companies via a for-profit seems to be the best way to do it.

    It was always pretty obvious to me that, even if the XO itself does not bring a huge change, its technologies and its "less is enough" approach are bound to make a massive change to a very monotonous market.

    Let's hope it's the next Apple II ;-)
  • by Gordo_1 (256312) on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @11:24PM (#21879016)
    a commenter claiming to be Mary Lou Jepsen has responded to a similar story on olpcnews.com:

    Hi all,

    Thanks for all the interest in my new company!

    some comments:

    1) My new company *is* trying to explore the concepts of open hardware - and trying to figure out the right way to do it. I've been asking many people for advice on this: Richard Stallman, Eben Moglen, Larry Lessig, John Gilmore, Brewster Kahle, etc. We are struggling through it. Hardware is different from software - but how can we open it up?

    2) Doesn't anyone want a 50 Euro laptop? I do. I'm not talking about designing last years product for next year. Other people can do that..I plan to continue to innovate and invent.

    3) Finally: I'm not taking my inventions from OLPC - I'm licensing them from OLPC. Why: An inventor has a good chance of improving the price/performance of her inventions. Why restrict her access to them if our goal is lower cost computing for the developing world?

    Posted by: Mary Lou Jepsen on January 01, 2008
  • OLPC is also designing a cow-powered generator that works by hooking cattle up to a system of belts and pulleys.
    I understand the idea of giving these to developing countries, but I would hope that this gets applied to commercial industries as well- think if you hooked them up to treadmills and elipticals in gyms.....

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