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One Laptop Per Child Gets 4 Million Laptop Order 419

An anonymous reader writes " is reporting that four countries have together ordered 4 million low-cost, Linux-based laptops from the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project. The countries of Nigeria, Brazil, Argentina, and Thailand have each placed the 1 million unit orders."
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One Laptop Per Child Gets 4 Million Laptop Order

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  • by lecithin ( 745575 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @01:30AM (#15823084)
    "The countries of Nigeria, Brazil, Argentina, and Thailand have each placed the 1 million unit orders."

    Dear Mike,

    Thank you once again for finalizing the order. You will know that this transaction is 100% Guaranteed.

    We will send our certified funds after the customs are paid by you. Please send the customs fee of $37,000,000 ($37*1 Million Units) via wire transfer to:

    Barrister MUGO Gy PAN Oguami
    419 Scam DEC
    Lagos, Nigeria

    >>Hi Mugo,
    >>We have approved your order and are ready to ship. You mentioned a custom's fee that we are very ready to pay. Please let me know how much per unit we will need to send.

    >>Thanks again for the business!!!

    >>Mike Undundrum
    • by eclectro ( 227083 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @02:10AM (#15823198)

      The laptops are part of Nigeria's "leave no scammer behind" initiative.
  • ...the feelings of the OLPC project owners right now:

    • by HotNeedleOfInquiry ( 598897 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @01:36AM (#15823103)
      Only if they are clueless. Frankly, I'd be scared shitless that I'd have to deliver 1,000,000 computers for $1,000,000 when they costed me $1,500,000 to build.
      • Ehhh, 1M computers for 1M dollars??? Forget about the factor 1.5x built cost. I guess you forgot some zeroes here and there. On my little calculator 1 million $100 computers is still 100,000,000 dollars. :-)
        • Ehhh, 1M computers for 1M dollars??? Forget about the factor 1.5x built cost. I guess you forgot some zeroes here and there. On my little calculator 1 million $100 computers is still 100,000,000 dollars. :-)

          Actually is't oooone huuuundred meeeeeellion dollars!
      • Oh, if only they could build those laptops for a dollar fifty each! They'd only be out five hundred thousand dollars per million dollar order. (I think you missed some zeros.)
      • Only if they are clueless. Frankly, I'd be scared shitless that I'd have to deliver 1,000,000 computers for $1,000,000 when they costed me $1,500,000 to build.

        Ignoring the grammar, and the factor of 100 you're presumably out; where in TFA does it state the delivery price? The "$100 laptop" is a slogan, as much as "one laptop per child", not a catalogue price. When it comes to drawing up contracts, the actual numbers will reflect real costs. Negoponte has already said the first generations will likely b

    • by qortra ( 591818 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @01:48AM (#15823142)

      Is that the sound of a non-profit organization [] selling laptops at cost? These people will probably make passable salaries courtesy of the organization, but these are not going to be multi-million dollar CEOs and CTOs. Their only major gain here is possibly the minor fame that comes with starting a project like this. In fact, I think most of the companies involved are selling the parts are near cost. The fact is that everybody wants to get a choke-hold on emerging markets (the same markets that these target); but even if that happens for AMD and the like, I don't think Negroponte or any other "owner" is going to be exploiting starving children or their poor governments in order to buy shiny red Ferraris.
      • by dexomn ( 147950 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @03:37AM (#15823415)
        The 'major gain' here is that kids will get to use computers.
        • Actually, the major gain will be that there will be four million installs of Squeak in the wild suddenly. Not only that, but there will be four million people learning Smalltalk as their first programming language. Considering that the entire Squeak environment was written by ten people, if even half a percent of them go on to contribute to the project this could have a huge impact. At the very least, we are likely to, once again, have a generation of programmers who realise quite how primitive developer
  • good idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by babtrek ( 256300 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @01:35AM (#15823098)
    I really like that these countries have the determination to use linux laptops to help increase there education levels, it will benifit everyone. In the short term the production lines get busy making the laptops ready to be uses, and it will promote using open source software and Linux which could mean more and better tools out there for us eventually. But it could also breed us more scammers, damn them wasting so much of out time.
    • Re:good idea (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ronanbear ( 924575 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @02:32AM (#15823256)
      4 million is a huge number of laptops. It represents about 10% of the annual worldwide laptop shipments. If these shipments actually occur in a reasonable timeframe it would have a massive effect on the worldwide computer market. It would effect component prices for OEMs. Imagine the headlines as Red Hat grab a larger proportion of the laptop market than Apple.
      • Re:good idea (Score:3, Informative)

        by laffer1 ( 701823 )
        I'm a mac and pc user. I'd be very happy to see another operating system grab marketshare overnight. It might show end users and companies that they can run something besides Windows! It may encourage competition. Microsoft could use a real dose of competition right about now. Everyone would benefit.

        This may be what all of the linux users have been waiting for. It can prove linux is a desktop os as it was intended to be. Apple may get sales out of this too. (more interest in alternatives)
    • Re:good idea (Score:3, Interesting)

      by antic ( 29198 )
      That is exactly my concern. These people will have a choice between gaining literacy and skills, and maybe starting businesses to further their local economy, or gain literacy and skills to spam and scam once they learn that the rewards outweigh the risks for them.

      And we thought there were a lot of spam, AdSense blogs and phishing now. Wait until x% of four million new computer users catch wind of a way to get their hands on more USD than is open to them via legal means.
      • Re:good idea (Score:5, Interesting)

        by gsslay ( 807818 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @09:03AM (#15824315)
        These people will have a choice between gaining literacy and skills, and maybe starting businesses to further their local economy, or gain literacy and skills to spam and scam once they learn that the rewards outweigh the risks for them.

        How is this different from any new people anywhere in the world? Or is it just all those shifty, foreign people in developing nations you suspect as criminals in the making?

        Interesting fact: the US (the world's richest nation) accounts for the majority of all spam, at 23.2%. "These people" have more to fear from the the outside world than you do from them.

        But of course you're right. Let's keep the internet safe for the gullible rich, and out of the hands of wily poor people who, as we all know, have no morals and want to take our money. Keep 'em backward and ignorant I say.

    • Re:good idea (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NickFortune ( 613926 )

      I suppose by that argument, we could also reduce spam by outlawing it education and training in the US.

      It's a radical plan, but as long as we're agreed that widespread ignorance is an acceptable price to pay for a reduction in computer related crime, why not take it all the way?

  • by dotslashdot ( 694478 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @01:36AM (#15823101)
    What's next? Outsource to malnourished kids. All they get is a little cookie (or several, depending on their privacy settings.) You can pay them even less than the Indian & Chinese programmers since these kids don't need money for food. They can just eat the cookies without getting any cache.
  • by darkonc ( 47285 ) <stephen_samuel@bcgr e e n . com> on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @01:37AM (#15823105) Homepage Journal
    Bill Gates has just announced a whirlwind 4 nation third-world tour. Currently in Africa, supposedly on a safari . . . . .
  • Awesome (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kernelpanicked ( 882802 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @01:37AM (#15823106)
    I have a lot of respect for this project and I'm glad to see it's working out seemingly well.

    Random Thought:

    Wonder if any of the large PC vendors are paying attention, When was the last time Dell or HP sold 1 million+ Windows boxes in one shot?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @01:40AM (#15823114)
    Is it just me or won't this mean Linux gains a significant user base that basically never have used anything else than Linux and will never have any reason for using anything else? This must be a big thorn in both Microsoft and Apple's (remember they offered to give away software for this project) side...
    • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @02:29AM (#15823247) Journal
      Because everyone knows when it comes to really cheap computers Apple is right there as a market leader.

      Sorry but no, Steve Jobs offering OS-X for free was nothing but a kind gesture. His product is so out of range of the audience who would have gotten these machines it would be very hard to imagine any generated sales. Unless the project is super succesfull and instantly gives these kids western style incomes. Upper western style incomes.

      Windows is an entirely different matter. MS has near dominance of the computer OS and 4 million new users who use non-ms software is nasty. Not horribly nasty but MS is often claimed to keep its dominance because it is dominant. In short you have to use windows, because everyone else uses windows. If everyone else doesn't use windows. Neither do you have to use windows.

      It is the reason MS doesn't come down all that hard on piracy and is so willing to offer cheap (by western standards) versions of its OS in high piracy areas. MS rather loose a billion in sales then loose its dominance. Munich showed that MS is basically willing to give its software and services not just away for free but actually offer money on top of it just to make sure some other OS is not used.

      Apple competes on quality, MS competes by being the only game in town. Oh and don't forget that linux users will have little difficulty switching to OS-X wich is after all based on that linux wannabe BSD. /me runs for it.

    • If the designers of these systems have done their work well, I hope these kids won't see any Linux (ls, vi, etc.) at all. I expect that that's all hidden below an appropriate GUI. What remains a winning point of course is that they are not confronted with a green-hill-blue-sky landscape during their first computer experiences.
      • actually I believe the idea was to get the kids to actually teach themselves and learn about the real operating of a computer. I'm sure the linux stuff will be there (as well as the GUI). I imagine that they will have the option to go wherever they want with it.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @04:57AM (#15823601)
      What are the implications of widespread Linux use in the Third World?
      • Women and girls who were previously denied educational opportunities will be able to establish themselves as insular, boring, pedantic geeks on an equal footing with men
      • The long-standing argument about vi versus emacs will be settled with a truckload of black market AK-47s
      • In some cultures, bloated software will actually be considered more attractive
      • Indian CS undergrads will be able to talk about how great the internet was in the good old days, before all the clueless n00bs arrived
      • Third World businesses will have access to new markets for their agricultural produce, manufacturing services, and r3d H0+ z3r0-d4y w4R32
      • The highways on the internet will not become more few
    • Some estimates of Linux desktops are around 30 millions. 4 million more in the coming year or so is a big relative increase. I expect many countries will wait a bit to see how these machines work before jumping in. It could start a fire.

      In my part of the world, Canada, I have gone from installing a few GNU/Linux machines each year to doing 150 next month. At about half the cost of Windows, per seat, if the project works out (I do not see any obstacles), other schools and school divisions in my area are lik

  • Each of those countries has more than 1 million children. In order to fit their "one laptop per child" criteria, there will be a lottery. The winners get the laptops. The losers get to choose a method of execution.
    • I suppose they could always wait until they have, what? a billion laptops pre-ordered and then start make them all at once...

      Second thoughts, I think they way they're doing it might work better.

  • by jeffsenter ( 95083 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @01:45AM (#15823128) Homepage
    Well this follows the /. story [] on skepticism for OLPC in India. Brazil, Argentina, Thailand, and Nigeria are all substantially more wealthy than India on a per capita basis. India (with a lot more help from the industrialized world than it is presently getting) needs to focus on providing things like basic vaccines for all children. Laptops don't help children who are dieing from measels for lack of vaccination. Brazil, Argentina, Thailand, and Nigeria all have enough money to provide some basics like vaccines. These are not countries where large scale famine is a great threat. These four countries have a substantial level of economic development and government services. This is not to say the implementation of public health strategies and other much-needed services in these four countries is ideal.
  • by martijnd ( 148684 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @01:52AM (#15823150)
    Now this would be a nice toy for my own daughters (says father, who wouldn't mind taking this thing apart). Too bad they don't take orders below one million pieces.

    Considering the low specs of this thing how about releasing the distribution and libraries that will run on this? It should be trivial to build a VM that allows you to play with developing software to run in this kind of environment.

    To ensure that this project doesn't flop right from the start -- I presume that they would like people to develop some software for it.... (visions of US$ 100 doorstops all over Asia)

  • Riots? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by weasello ( 881450 ) <> on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @01:53AM (#15823155) Homepage
    Last time cheap laptops went on sale/given away there were so many rioting and fighting people that several were hospitalized. I wonder how a 3rd world country would deal with giving away these laptops, and how long they'll stay in the hands they are given to.
  • by unPlugged-2.0 ( 947200 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @01:58AM (#15823167) Homepage
    That is good news but there are still lots of challenges to this. I remember reading that they need 10 million to even be able to produce them. They are still a long way off.

    Now I am usually an optimist and i do believe that the OLPC project is at its core a good project but the competition is heating up with China, AMD and Intel with their own programs and china's project being almost competitive on price. Also the OLPC project relies on AMD and indirectly china's production capabilities to make it a reality.

    Also in my opinion (and mine only - don't want to start a flameware) it is too much of a one man crusade. I think that there is way too much emphasis and publicity surrounding Negroponte and what he thinks that people (like me) will start to wonder if this is really a group effort or just one man's dream. There are times that the distinction between non-profit and corporation are blurred and the line between philanthropy and publicity are not clear.

    However I think idea is sound and I think that the OLPC project has served notice to corporations that there is a very underserved market that can further the adoption of computers and thus overall help everyone out (like the Intel's and AMD's of the world). I think that a few years from now the lasting legacy of the OLPC project may be the fact that it spurred companies to serve this market.

    And regardless of what people may say about computers and learning it does let me slack off and post on slashdot all day so they can't be so bad.
  • Even if we assume that the corruption which normally gets in the way of everything in countries such as this will not be a factor this time, I don't think these computers will make a bit of difference in these countries. Computers require both infrastructure and previous basic education to make them worth anything. Just handing a computer to somebody who doesn't have the background to understand the tool's context isn't going to make any difference. Some people seem to think that computers somehow make peop
  • compo time! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Pliep ( 880962 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @02:35AM (#15823266) Homepage
    Now how long before someone starts a "be the first to install Mac OS x86 on this machine" competition?
  • It's ok (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rhfixer ( 920651 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @03:14AM (#15823361) Homepage
    Well, I live in Argentina, so I can tell you what the situation is like here. There are people with a lot of money, that own towns or entire provinces (most of those ppl are in the goverment, that's obvious), people with a normal economic situation, who can buy a house or two, have a computer (or 3, as I do) and a car, and there are poor people. That plan is going to work, not for all the children, but for a small quantity. I think that plan is going to work, partially, but it is going to work.
    My guess is that for 99% of the children in these countries, the laptops will be totally useless, because what those kids really need is food, a clean source of water, and (especially for the girls) a chance to go to school and become literate. On the other hand, it's possible that 1% of them will really be helped, and among that 1% might be some of the future Bachs and Einsteins of the world.

    Just because we're outside the US doesn't mean we aren't enough intelligent to operate a computer. Well, they have food, a clean source of water, a chance to go to school, they only need a teacher.
  • by raventh1 ( 581261 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @04:36AM (#15823561)
    I am glad that this opens up opportunities for many children to learn about computers and grow up using them. All my life, I've had a computer around, and since everything is run by computers these days, it will do a couple things for those nations. Education of such a powerful tool will help them to get better jobs, and hopefully it will increase the market power for the countries.

    I for one welcome these laptop weilding children of the world!
  • by Tracy Reed ( 3563 ) <> on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @04:50AM (#15823592) Homepage
    The OLPC website says they will only be available to schools and governments. How will anyone ever develop software for it? Why can't I pay $200 for one and have $100 of that go towards subsidizing a laptop for some other kid?
    • Very valid point, strangely enought the first time I see this question here. I know I would want one just because it's a convenient machine, and I don't mind that it might be too much of a hassle for these people to organize per-piece sales, but that developers can't access it is really a big miss. Projects like this desperately need a boost from outside developers!

      Come to think of it, the moment they have access to ebay you might be able to buy one from them ;) Still, just know that you won't gain much f

    • But you can develop software for it! That's the whole point! You don't need one of the actual machines: you can replicate the development environment on any old PC.
  • by Paul Fernhout ( 109597 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @05:39AM (#15823703) Homepage
    See my comment in 2000 to Doug Engelbart's Bootstrap List at: []
    From there [with some outdated links removed]:

    I'd love to make a souped up version of this for OHS/DKR use: (Read about in May 2000 Popular Mechanics) "Cybiko Introduces First Handheld Internet Wireless Entertainment System At Toy Fair 2000"

    US $149.00 The Cybiko system combines instant messaging, interactive gaming, email and personal information manager (PIM) capabilities in an all-in-one device. ... Available in four translucent colors, Cybiko has a full QWERTY keyboard to compose messages, LCD display, .5 MB memory (expandable to 16MB), a high frequency transmitter and Vibration Alert feature. The unit measures 4.8 x 2.8-inches and weighs under four ounces making it light, thin and small enough to carry in a book bag, purse or shirt pocket. ... With Cybiko, kids and teens can communicate instantly with others within a radius of 150 to 300 feet, depending on the environment, creating their very own virtual community.


    Imagine what we could have for $1000 by the end of this year by integrating technology that already exists:

    Develop a beefed up version supporting a distributed file system like Freenet... []

    Using technology like this 6GB in 14 ounces $500 portable audio player/recorder: [nomad Jukebox]:

    And a two mile radio range: [Motorola walky talky]

    Maybe with a next generation StrongARM 600Mhz processor: 050399.htm []
    Like a faster version of: [BossaNova mobile processor]

    Running Squeak (and maybe Linux) as an open source OS/Development environment: []

    Using Bootstrap OHS/DKR type ideas for the interface...

    Powered by solar energy and/or Baygen radio windup technology and/or fuel cells.

    And with a digital camera for fun and creation of educational how-to tutorials... (And on the spot news reporting...)

    And remember that in five years this entire thing will cost US$100 each.

    As an alternative, this could be a set of HandSpring modules instead: [Springboard]

    Consider a couple of these souped up devices given to each village in Africa. Anyone with $1 billion for true development aid to 500,000 African villages? (This is just the cost of one unfinished dam or one shut down nuclear plant.)

    Consider millions of these devices airdropped into Iraq and Yugoslavia -- instead of more expensive cruise missiles! Anybody got $1 billion to spend on ensuring democracy with a true defense against tyranny in those places? (This is probably what the U.S. military's spends on gas/oil for a month cruising the area...)

    This is like a system I wanted to develop and deploy pre-Y2K just in case... But it still has much value in preparing for any potential (natural, political, economic, biological) disaster, as well as aiding the development of democracy.

    It's somewhat like the wearable crystals described in The Skills of Xanadu" by Theodore Sturgeon (available in his book The Golden Helix), although the one thing it lacks is easy self-repliaction...

    Developing and then deploying this sort of device is the sort of thing the UN or a major foundation should fund (if they were on the ball). But luckily, there is hope from toymakers!


    Anyway, glad to see six years later this is going ahead at that $100 price point (and developed by other than toymakers). My hat goes off to the dedicated people making this happen.

"I will make no bargains with terrorist hardware." -- Peter da Silva