OLPC days numbered as recession bites
The One Laptop Per Child organisation (OLPC), looks to have conceded that its "$100 laptop" has been a gigantic lapflop as the global recession bites deeper. Recent reports indicate that OLPC has suffered a massive sales downturn of its XO computer, resulting in equally massive staff layoffs and budget slashing.
The brainchild of MIT media lab's Professor Nicholas Negroponte, the aim of the OLPC was to deliver cheap robust laptops to the underprivileged children of the world. The novel XO laptop, despite being closer to US$200 than the original stated goal of US$100, received widespread acclaim from many quarters (and criticism from others) when it was finally released in 2007.
According to a report on the Telecom TV website, the Christmas holiday period has been a disaster for OLPC with just 12,600 XO laptops sold, compared to 185,000 the year before.
To make matters worse, cash strapped governments of impoverished nations which had been persuaded by OLPC to buy XO laptops are now reneging on their commitments.
Aside from the global recesssion, the rise of the cheap netbook phenomenon, led by Asus, Acer, HP and a number of other big names, has commoditised the small computer space and made the relatively underpowered XO seem expensive rather than cheap.