updated 03:00 pm EDT, Tue July 24, 2007
OLPC Laptop for Public
The One Laptop Per Child project's just completed XO system may be sold to a general audience as early as this year, the group's chief technical officer Lou Jepsen has revealed. While the ultra-economic system has always been targeted at developing world schools that need inexpensive and rugged computers, the interest in the computer and the desire to reduce the cost of the PC for poorer areas may lead to private companies selling the system to the public. Prices would be set much higher at $350 to account for marketing, support, and ultimately shrinking the $175 cost for developing-world governments, Jepsen said.
Talks are reportedly underway with multiple large Internet-based companies who would not only sell the systems but provide the support network that would normally be up to local officials or the OLPC group itself with school editions. Three of the companies involved have "a big presence on the Web," the technical chief said, though she stopped short of naming Google or other similar firms.
The organization would not commit to more specific release windows than a holiday season release, but noted that the goal was to produce as many systems as possible in any given batch to maximize the effectiveness of factories. The first production XO systems are scheduled to launch in October.