I applaud the OLPC. I really do. But sometimes, I think that Nicholas Negroponte and his people can be awfully thickheaded.
Sure, they want to provide the OLPC for the children in the poorer nations. I agree that this is a good thing. The best way to get people out of poverty is to provide them the means to do so.
But they shouldn’t be so rigid about not commercializing the OLPC. I look at it this way: if you sell the OLPC to the developed nations as well, it may well become popular. It’s not just the geeks who want to own it. Small notebooks are all the rage today. When OLPC becomes popular, the price of the OLPC will drop. Better still, people will become accustomed to the way it works. Linux and whatever special networking and educational stuff they put into OLPC will become the de facto standard. When that happens… wow.
(I think that is what Microsoft is afraid of. They are afraid that people will start getting used to Linux. Then when software developers start seeing people use it, and port their applications to that OS, the days of Windows are numbered.)
But Negroponte is too blind to see that. He has a one track mind. I say that to reach your non-commercial target, you should not eschew the commercial opportunities. People are dying to get their hands on the OLPC. Today. But if you wait too long, and Intel Classmate, which is making its way onto American stores secretly via other channels, will take its place. Once that happens, it will be too late for OLPC.
The window of opportunity is closing. They need to get their act together.