This little item came in via our competitive intelligence memo this morning. Appears that Beastmaster Bill is going to use his philanthropical foundation to buy up as many of those hundred-dollar craptops as they can. They’re gonnna offer Third World kids cold hard cash, or food, or vaccines and other medications, in barter for the machines. Program is gonna be called, “Be a Hero, Feed Your Family.” Our guys have already seen mockups of the ads, which are tailored to each country. Gist is the same. Picture of kid beaming with pride and holding his OLPC machine. Message goes like this, “Hello, Abdul. Isn’t it wonderful to have such a shiny new toy? How happy you must be! Yet how sad your Mama is that she cannot buy food for your family. Or that your sister needs medicine but your family cannot afford to buy it. Well, now you can be a hero! The ‘Be a Hero’ program will offer you valuable goods in exchange for your wonderful toy. As much as one hundred dollars, Abdul! Think! That is more than your Papa earned all last year! Fortune has smiled upon you and granted you this valuable object. Now you can use it to save your family. Won’t you feel proud?”
You get the idea. Negroponte is flipping the hell out. Says it’s a transparent scheme to wipe these machines out of the market and kill Linux. Bill’s people say it’s just an exercise in free market economics. Man oh man. This is a real fiasco in the making.