The world-changing hundred-dollar laptop is going into mass production, which means that soon one of two things will happen. Either a) a huge number of these things will get shipped into developing countries and begin to crash and pile up, broken, in heaps; or b) a huge number of these things will pile up in some warehouse because the orders still aren’t coming in. Now the good folks at OLPC are saying they will subsidize their efforts by selling these craptops to First-World freetards for something like five hundred bucks a piece. See the Engadget piece here.
Why is this significant? It’s significant because it’s a huge about-face for OLPC, which originally said they wouldn’t sell to consumers here because there was going to be such demand in the Third World and they wanted to make sure that every kid got a machine before they started letting folks here have them. Now they’re going to start cranking them out and selling them here while they wait for those huge million-unit orders to come in from the developing world — you know, those orders that will cost each country $100 million that they don’t, um, have. Ahem.
The next fall-back, as these machines start piling up, will be for OLPC to try to arrange “financing” through the World Bank or the U.N. or some other organization. When that falls through they can blame those guys. Or they’ll blame Intel, which by then will have swept in and helped these countries set up their own plants to build the machines locally, thereby creating jobs. I know it sounds strange, but what Intel understands and OLPC doesn’t is that these countries don’t want expensive handouts. They want companies to come in and create jobs and help them build an ecosystem. Just selling them a bunch of cheap laptops (which by the way are still too expensive for them) doesn’t do them much good.
Of course the OLPC people won’t admit defeat or even admit to being disappointed. And they’ll never admit how stupid and idealistic and naive they look. And nobody in the freetarded media will ever criticize them because then they too will look stupid for having touted this thing like it was the second coming of You-Know-Who.
Note to Nicholas Negroponte: You went on your big world tour and met with Kofi Annan and all these government ministers and they all posed for photos and told you how wonderful your plans were and how they were so eager to get started. But then when it came time to write checks they all kind of stopped returning your phone calls. Or if they do call back they start suggesting ways that you could set up their brother-in-law as a distributor and slice a little bit of the skim back in their direction. Welcome to the developing world. You should see the stuff we have to do to make business happen in these places. One guy — I can’t say who — made us set him up with a private jet, ostensibly so he could zoom around the country keeping an eye on us and monitoring our performance. Oh, and maybe zip off to Paris for weekends. NickNeg, have you ever done business in places like Africa before? Oh right. You’re a professor. You just want to help the kids.
Funny thing is that there’s not a lot of demand for these dopey machines from the target audience, but there’s loads of demand from freetards in the U.S. and Europe. Turns out, apparently, that folks in the developing world know enough to stay away from first-gen tech, especially when it’s running a brand-new OS designed by wooly Cambridge types and it’s still crashing all the time. Not so the freetards, who can’t wait to get their hands on these semi-functioning boxes with their childish icon user interface. How soon till we see bozos in Berkeley and Cambridge sitting in cafes, pumping away on their foot pump or tugging on their salad spinner, keeping their little laptop running and cruising the Web with their Opera browser? No doubt they’ll act all smug, too, and tell us that by doing this they’re a) saving the planet from melting; and b) helping kids in Africa. Have at it, bozos.