When the One Laptop Per Child organization began mass production of its OLPC XO notebook computer, it also launched a “Give One, Get One” program which enabled commercial sales of the notebook intended to enable education in developing nations. Folks in developed economies would be able to get their hands on the OLPC XO for $399…and, in doing so, would fund another OLPC XO laptop to be given to a child in a developing country. The OLPC organization scheduled the promotion to run for two weeks, and crossed its fingers. Few people were willing to predict how the program would be received: would computer enthusiasts be willing to pay almost $400 for a small, low-powered notebook aimed at childrens’ educational use? Or would they respond with enthusiasm, potentially making participation the “Give One, Get One” program a highlight of the end-of-year holiday season?
It’s starting to look like the latter: due to strong response, the OLPC initiative has extended the Give One, Get One program through December 31. According to the OLPC organization, donations to the Give One, Get One program have averaged $2 million a day, although they did not specify whether that figure represents the full $399 price for both laptops, or just the donated systems. However, if that rate of donations stays constant, the Give One, Get One program would be responsible for the sale of nearly 500,000 OLPC XI notebooks by the end of the year.
OLPC’s Nicholas Negroponte still apparently sees the Give One, Get One program as a temporary measure to jump-start OLPC production, and plans to shift to a donations-only model by the beginning of 2008. However, at least one OLPC fan, Miami’s Gabriel Morales, thinks OLPC XOs should continue to be available commercially as long as they’re being manufactured, and has started his own Web site to make his case, arguing that commercial availability not only offers funding to the OLPC project so it can continue to put computers into childrens’ hands, but also puts a valuable public face on the OLPC program, rather making the technology inaccessible to the very people most capable of funding its continued development.
In the meantime, if you’ve been thinking about getting an OLPC XO notebook, you have until the end of the year.
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