One Laptop Per Child will finally allow those in more affluent nations (or at least here in the U.S.) to get their hands on the XO laptop. I’m glad that the initiative has reconsidered selling to individuals as I wrote way back in October 2005:
The One Laptop Per Child initiative has no plans to sell its brainchild to individuals; indeed, its minimum order is a million units. But why not? Even at $200 or $300 per laptop, it would likely meet a large enough market of curiosity-seekers, second or third PC tire-kickers, hackers and disadvantaged youth in richer nations to raise funds to help subsidize distribution around the globe. And if, as co-founder Nicholas Negroponte claims, one of the organization’s largest challenges will be scaling up to hundreds of millions of units, would it not make sense to start with a smaller and familiar test market?
There may be other ways to help proliferate the devices as well. In any case, while I once thought I would jump on the chance to get the XO as a lightweight word processing and Internet access device, I will be passing, humanitarian incentives aside. I got to try the keyboard at a trade show and it was quite mushy. To OLPC’s credit, they position the offer as a chance to get an XO for a child in the U.S..