Until the end of the year the One Laptop Per Child program is giving allowing regular folks to buy the laptop as long as they donate one as well (the program has actually been going since the beginning of November I believe). While many have questioned the program and it’s hit some significant bumps in the road, it seems to be doing better. Although the non-profit has seen recent competition from for-profit manufacturers, as Grant McCracken rightly pointed out, that’s not such a bad thing.
To quote Grant, “We could argue that Intel and Microsoft are rushing this market precisely because they were terrified that the first one in could own it. And this is a way of saying that Negroponte almost certainly moved up the Intel and Microsoft participation by, what?, a couple of years. Now we have a robust market, with real choices, competitors with deep pockets, momentum, urgency; not philanthropy, but that beast called capitalism.”
To be completely honest I’m not sure where I fall in the debate. While I understand Pier’s point that “People in developing countries already have a low price portable computer – it just has a smaller screen and makes a ringing noise,” however, there’s a lot I like quite a bit about the $100 laptop. For one, they’ve managed to catalyze corporate interests to drop prices and think about a market they otherwise would have likely ignored. They also completely rethought the interface: “While traditional computer interfaces are modeled on the desktop metaphor, Sugar places the individual user at the center of the interface.” (Idiocentricity?) And of course the computer is loaded with open source software and tools for building new stuff.