Earlier this year, Matt Keller sat down with officials in Afghanistan -- not to discuss troop deployments, suicide bombings or opium traffickers. He was there to talk about getting laptop computers into the hands of little girls.
The One Laptop Per Child project is about to find out whether Microsoft Corp., a rival the nonprofit group once derided, is the solution to its problems in spreading inexpensive portable computers to schoolchildren
Microsoft and the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative announced Thursday that the Windows operating system would soon be available on the so-called XO, also known as the "$100 laptop." In interviews, executives made it clear that this could be a catalytic shift in perception and market success for the innovative but up-to-now aberrant laptop intended for the poor children of the world.
On Thursday Intel announced it was dropping out of the non-profit One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) organization, which was set up to develop and market a low-cost - ideally $100 or less - education-focused laptop for the poorest children in the world. The device, called XO, is now in production in Taiwan and in use in a number of countries. Fortune's David Kirkpatrick spoke Friday with Nicholas Negroponte, founder and chairman of OLPC. A transcript is below.
For the first time, and for a limited period only, people in North America will be able to get their hands on the XO, MIT professor Nicholas Negroponte's rugged little laptop that's designed specifically for children.
There's only one other device out there right now as cool as the iPhone, and until recently it was impossible to get your hands on one. But now you can buy the greenest computer there is, which also happens to be a great way to use the Internet, a superb eBook reader, a tremendous tool for creativity and education, and the ultimate device for getting kids excited about computing. And it's beautiful to boot.
The project that hopes to supply developing-world schoolchildren with $188 laptops will sell the rugged little computers to U.S. residents and Canadians for $400 each, with the profit going toward a machine for a poor country.
It's been an eventful two weeks for the $100 laptop movement. On July 13 the group called One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) announced it would add Intel to its growing list of corporate supporters, which include Intel's chip rival AMD as well as Google, News Corp., eBay, Quanta Computer and others. Then on the 23rd OLPC said that the XO, its triumphantly-engineered computer (which will actually initially cost closer to $200 than $100) will go into mass production at Quanta in Taiwan.
I alienated more than one executive at Intel with my recent column about the $100 laptop for poor school kids being built by Nick Negroponte's One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative. But Intel's head of sales and marketing, Sean Maloney, overlooked his reservations and spent an hour with me last week during the company's analyst meeting in New York.
Nicholas Negroponte, founder and chairman of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) non-profit group, on Thursday revealed big news about his laptop for the poor children of the world. His biggest revelations at a Cambridge press and analyst briefing: The laptop will run Windows, and the group is seriously considering selling it in the United States.
I was sitting in a session at Davos idly doing e-mail when I suddenly slapped my laptop closed and listened, amazed. Nestle CEO Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, on stage, was asserting that global warming doesn't much matter, that Al Gore deliberately omitted contradictory information from his movie "An Inconvenient Truth," and that the world would be better off using money it is spending to comply with the Kyoto Protocol to improve water supplies.
When people ask me what I think is the most important trend in technology today, I always answer the same way. It's not Web 2.0, Open Source software or Google's growing power. The most important trend in technology is how it is boosting economic development around the world.
Carly Fiorina may have gotten some things wrong when she was CEO of Hewlett-Packard, but she did show an admirably early understanding of one of the most important trends in tech. Back as far as 1999, she was championing something HP called World e-Inclusion, a program to focus the company's resources on creating products and services for the world's poor and developing nations.
The World Summit on the Information Society held in Tunisia was the latest forum where a green "laptop"-- weighing one kilogram and not reliant on electricity -- was the center of attention, with its inventor claiming that the $100 machine will help eradicate poverty.