$10 laptop flops, India orders 2.5 lakh OLPC laptops

By SiliconIndia   |   Thursday, 30 April 2009, 11:19 Hrs   |    24 Comments
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$10 laptop flops, India orders 2.5 lakh OLPC laptops
Bangalore: The Indian government has turned to the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Foundation to order 250,000 XO laptops, after the $10 laptop had turned a catastrophe, which was a direct challenge to the $100 laptop of the OLPC project. Satish Jha, President and CEO of OLPC India said, "The laptops are ordered for 1,500 schools and the deliveries will begin in June."

This will be the first order placed by India after the OLPC project failed to impress the then IT minister Arun Shourie in 2001. The OLPC project could not succeed in India, when it first entered the market by distributing 20 XO machines in a Maharastra village. The government shirked the project questioning its technology, the hidden costs and also cited it to be unhealthy if used for prolonged periods. The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) also testified a new project, Sakshat, to provide a $10 laptop. The anticipated notebook equipped with Wi-Fi and 2GB RAM, however, turned out to be little more than a computing machine. It is just a 10 x 5-inch wide slab that stores and apparently prints distributed learning materials that can later be retrieved using a laptop.

After being rejected by the central government, the MIT's Nicholas Negroponte's OLPC project has been trying its luck with various state governments and the private sector in the hope that large corporations would donate these laptops to schools. The XO laptops are rugged, use open source computing, and are so energy efficient that they can be powered manually by a child. They have a built-in wireless, a unique dual-mode display that is readable under direct sunlight. OLPC says the software is designed for children to encourage exploration and creativity.

The OLPC has also planned to do away with the current AMD chips in the XO laptop and include the VIA C7-M, where the system memory would be enhanced to 1GB and internal storage to 4GB. However, the foundation did not reveal which version of the laptop the government has opted for.

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