One Laptop Per Child, also abbreviated and known as OLPC could possibly be going retail in 2008.  BBC originally posted that they had confirmation the OLPC would be selling to Western Consumers in 2008.  They quickly retracted that and came back saying that there is a possibility that the OLPC organization will be selling these machines to the public.

The rumored idea is that retail consumers would buy two, and get one– with one of the machines going to the developing world.  Already, five million machines are slated to be delivered over the Summer to countries like Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Nigeria, Libya, Pakistan, and Thailand.  They were designed to be low cost, durable, and simple to use, and so far they have proved to be all of those.  Originally, the organization was aiming at $100 per machine, but the current cost is around $150, still an amazing price.

Built with education in mind, they include built-in wireless networking and video conferencing so that groups of children would be able to work together.  Michalis Blestsas, Chief Connectivity Officer of the project says, “I’d like to make sure that kids all around the world start to communicate. It will be a very interesting experiment to see what will happen when we deploy a million laptops in Brazil and a million laptops in Namibia.”

eBay has also been named with the recent talk, mentioned as a possible method of purchasing.  The goal would be to connect the buyer of the laptop with the child in the developing world who received the machine.  I’d assume that when you purchased the laptop, eBay would then be responsible for shipping the computer to the receiver in the developing country.

Obviously, this is an important part of the OLPC business plan, particularly if they get eBay involved.  By selling in the retail market, they’ll need to be looking at ways to do this without adding cost.  I think eBay sounds like a great route to take as a possible method of purchasing.

The OLPC has always been a project for developing countries, and I think it’s great to give the gift of education to children who have never had the chance to use a computer, as a tool for growth and learning. At the same time, only because I have seen from first-hand experience, I wonder why there aren’t similar programs for developed countries. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of technology available to kids for the purpose of education, however there’s a gap, and it’s not even across the board.  There are still plenty of kids in the U.S. (and I’m sure elsewhere) who haven’t ever used a computer, and that to me, is something that needs to be addressed. 

Thanks for the tip Jack of all Trades!