Friday, November 02, 2007

'$100 laptop' now available, for $200

Yahoo! reports: [edited]

The One Laptop per Child Foundation, founded by MIT Professor Nicholas Negroponte, has started offering the lime-green-and-white machines in lots of 10,000 for $200 apiece on its Web site.

The laptops are scheduled to go into production next month at a factory in China, far behind their original schedule and in quantities that are a fraction of Negroponte's earlier projections.

It is unclear when the machines will be ready for customers, as the Web site said version 1.0 of the software that runs the machine will not be ready until December 7.

He hoped to keep the price down by achieving unprecedented economies of scale for a start-up manufacturer, and in April, he told Reuters he expected to have orders for 2.5 million laptops by May, with production targeted to begin in September.

But that has not panned out. So far the foundation has disclosed orders to three countries - Uruguay, Peru and Mongolia. It has not said how many machines they have ordered.

Wayan Vota, an expert on using technology to promote economic development who publishes, a blog that monitors the group's activities, estimates orders at no more than 200,000 laptops.

"One-hundred dollars was never a realistic price. By starting with an unrealistic price, he reduced his credibility selling the laptop," Vota said.

The laptop features a keyboard that switches languages, a video camera, wireless connectivity and Linux software. The display switches from color to black-and-white for viewing in direct sunlight - a breakthrough that the foundation is patenting and may license next year for commercial use.

The laptop needs just 2 watts of power compared with a typical laptop's 30 to 40 watts and does away with hard drives. It uses flash memory and four USB ports to add memory and other devices.

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