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Some Ideas for Marketing the OLPC
Sunday, November 25 2007 @ 04:19 PM EST

You likely saw the Wall Street Journal article on Intel and Microsoft's efforts to crush/compete with the One Laptop Per Child project:
Mr. Negroponte's ambitious plan has been derailed, in part, by the power of his idea. For-profit companies threatened by the projected $100 price tag set off at a sprint to develop their own dirt-cheap machines, plunging Mr. Negroponte into unexpected competition against well-known brands such as Intel Corp. and Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system.

A version of Mr. Negroponte's vision is starting to come true. Impoverished countries are indeed snapping up cheap laptops for their schoolchildren -- just not anywhere near as many of his as he expected. They now have several cut-price models to choose from, raising the possibility that One Laptop Per Child, or OLPC, will end up as a niche player.

Nicholas Negroponte's One Laptop Per Child project sought to get $100 laptops into the hands of millions of the world's poorest schoolchildren. But for-profit versions of the laptop are competing fiercely in the developing world.

"I'm not good at selling laptops," Mr. Negroponte has told colleagues. "I'm good at selling ideas."

I think the article overplays the "derailed" aspect, but leaving that aside, I started to wonder, what can we as a community do to help? Anything beyond participating in the Give One Get One campaign? The most obvious need, if we credit that Negroponte quotation, is for someone good at marketing. Are you good at that? If so, can you volunteer? I have some ideas that I'll throw out there, and maybe someone will find a way to add some more and implement them, and who knows? My ideas stem from observing how Intel is marketing its competing offering, and flipping it over. Let me show you.

What Intel's Classmate is Like and How They Market It

I took a look at Intel's ripoff of the OLPC as I think of it. Here. You can too. A brochure with some specs [PDF]. Here are some videos of the OLPC that you can enjoy and which might give you some ideas.

The Intel Classmate is only close to the idea behind OLPC, and only if you don't look too closely. But let's look closely. Look at the pictures, for starters. Look how it looks after you open it. Would you want to use a computer that looks like that? Would a child? If Intel asked me to market it so kids would like it, I wouldn't know where to start.

The Classmate looks to me to be just another laptop, only smaller and cheesier looking, with a too small screen (it has a resizing feature, so you can cram a normal amount of a page on it, which I'm guessing people leave on all the time) and nothing a child would particularly enjoy by my reckoning, other than the fact that any laptop is better than none, except the digital pen, which is an optional addon, and I'm guessing those pens disappear or get lost in no time. And indeed Intel doesn't market Classmate as something kids will love. They market it as a laptop teachers and parents will find reassuring, because it gives them the illusion of control. Now *that's* significant. I just learned something about marketing. It's about dreams, not about reality.

What dreams are Intel selling? Here's the Classmate demo showing the parental monitoring/policy control feature. Intel is using that to market the thing. The parents can allegedly force kids to turn off the laptop and control what they can do with it, even in the classroom, even turning off the laptop while the child is in class. Why would a parent ever want to do that? In real life, they never would, I'm thinking. It's the illusion, just knowing that they can, not any reality, being sold.

I have some disturbing news for you parents and teachers: The kids will work around the parental control system that regulates when and how the child can use the computer in no time flat. So why is that one of Intel's selling points? Because the adults they are selling to don't know that it won't control the children at all? I expect it's a big selling point, to those who are clueless about tech. It's like how Hollywood drooled over DRM, because they didn't have a tech clue and actually believed it would work.

That type of application can be done in GNU/Linux on the OLPC, by the way, if someone wanted to write an application to do that. You can do whatever you want in GNU/Linux. But OLPC has worked to design special security particularly suited to children, Bitfrost. You don't even need a separate application in a sense because it's built in, and I'd let parents and teachers know that in addition the Linux operating system comes with admin and user permissions, read, write, etc. Just have the parent be admin and the child the user, and the parent really would have some meaningful control. You can prevent access to anything in a GNU/Linux computer by what you allow in the way of permissions. It's easy. And it mostly does work. So if they do take a Classmate, at least choose the Linux version and implement those options. Bitfrost works from the principle that kids won't be able to remember passwords, so it's taken security one step beyond.

I'm thinking to counteract Intel's marketing, though, someone should just write a stupid application that purports to give parents and teachers "control" over the laptop, by making it so easy and GUI'd up that it looks like Intel's regimented offering. Not literally like it, but with that aura. It has to look easy to use and be easy to use, and at the same time be official and regimental in appearance, like it really will keep your children in a playpen you can control by pushing some buttons. Kids get the tech way beyond the older generation, and they will figure out a bypass and then tell each other, whether in Windows or in GNU/Linux, but if that is a feature the adults crave, why not give it to them? If the adults want to dream that they can control their children's use of computers, so be it. See my idea? Sell the dream they are wanting to buy into.

Intel obviously spends a lot of money on marketing, and there's no way to match that budget, but if you guys would write up some "parental control" features in an application with a fearsome-sounding name and some more applications for "interactive activities with teachers" to slap on the OLPC or at least find and list for them, I think that might really be useful. For marketing. In real life, Bitfrost is there already. As for educational software, there is plenty of FOSS educational software already out there, like Moodle and Sakai. Why not include it, or at least let them know about it with lists with links on the OLPC, so teachers know that it is available and freely available? Here's the Moodle homepage:

Moodle is a course management system (CMS) - a free, Open Source software package designed using sound pedagogical principles, to help educators create effective online learning communities. You can download and use it on any computer you have handy (including webhosts), yet it can scale from a single-teacher site to a University with 200,000 students.

It's something that teachers can relate to, something for them. But unless you tell them it's available, and for free, I'm guessing they might get the impression from Intel's marketing that Classmate offers a feature that the OLPC can't, and that's just not so.

The marketing Intel is doing is probably effective with adults who don't quite understand computers themselves. The marketing, to me, is selling old ideas, but because they are old ideas, they are familiar and comforting. So if someone could please write some applications that provide similar comfort, or collect them for marketing, to add to OLPC's offerings, those Classmate marketing bullet points are erased.

What OLPC Offers That Classmate Doesn't

First, the OLPC is great for classroom use, but that isn't all it offers by a mile. You already know about the amazing tech advances, like the innovative screen that you can use in sunlight. But there is more than that. Classmate actually misses the fundamental point of the OLPC, as far as I'm concerned, which is essentially that kids invariably grasp the tech before the parents and the teachers do, so why hold them back? OLPC is a way to educate kids who have inadequate school resources, in areas where there may not even be any adequate schools or teachers, maybe not any at all, let alone any that know anything about computers. Here's a bit about the OLPC vision:


Most of the nearly two–billion children in the developing world are inadequately educated, or receive no education at all. One in three does not complete the fifth grade.

The individual and societal consequences of this chronic global crisis are profound. Children are consigned to poverty and isolation—just like their parents—never knowing what the light of learning could mean in their lives. At the same time, their governments struggle to compete in a rapidly evolving, global information economy, hobbled by a vast and increasingly urban underclass that cannot support itself, much less contribute to the commonweal, because it lacks the tools to do so.

It is time to rethink this equation.

Given the resources that developing countries can reasonably allocate to education—sometimes less than $20 per year per pupil, compared to the approximately $7500 per pupil spent annually in the U.S.—even a doubled or redoubled national commitment to traditional education, augmented by external and private funding, would not get the job done. Moreover, experience strongly suggests that an incremental increase of “more of the same”—building schools, hiring teachers, buying books and equipment—is a laudable but insufficient response to the problem of bringing true learning possibilities to the vast numbers of children in the developing world.

What does Classmate do for those billions of children who have no education or none after the 5th grade, no one to show them how to function in the Classmate's more regimented environment? I'd say not so much, except that the Internet makes knowledge available to anyone who can connect and has figured out how to do that. For that matter, if I were marketing OLPC, I'd include a graphic of all the educational materials already available on the Internet and on the OLPC for any child in the world to use and learn from. That treasure of knowledge is already there, already done, and all the children need is a way to reach it, which with the OLPC they can do this exact minute, with no one needed to even show them. It just works. But could you write some application to make it more readily available, so it's already there on the OLPC, just an easy click from the list?

Classmate is the old way, and that's fine for those that can afford it and have good schools and plenty of teachers for one and all. But for the problem that OLPC is addressing, what does it do? OLPC isn't just a laptop. It's an idea about education:

Standing still is a reliable recipe for going backward.

Any nation's most precious natural resource is its children. We believe the emerging world must leverage this resource by tapping into the children's innate capacities to learn, share, and create on their own. Our answer to that challenge is the XO laptop, a children's machine designed for “learning learning.”

XO embodies the theories of constructionism first developed by MIT Media Lab Professor Seymour Papert in the 1960s, and later elaborated upon by Alan Kay, complemented by the principles articulated by Nicholas Negroponte in his book, Being Digital.

Extensively field-tested and validated among some of the poorest and most remote populations on earth, constructionism emphasizes what Papert calls “learning learning” as the fundamental educational experience. A computer uniquely fosters learning learning by allowing children to “think about thinking”, in ways that are otherwise impossible. Using the XO as both their window on the world, as well as a highly programmable tool for exploring it, children in emerging nations will be opened to both illimitable knowledge and to their own creative and problem-solving potential.

OLPC is not, at heart, a technology program, nor is the XO a product in any conventional sense of the word. OLPC is a non-profit organization providing a means to an end—an end that sees children in even the most remote regions of the globe being given the opportunity to tap into their own potential, to be exposed to a whole world of ideas, and to contribute to a more productive and saner world community.

I note that Intel is offering "training" to teachers, and indeed they'd have to, if they want teachers to understand the tech first and then have them teach the kids afterward. The OLPC skips that step as being impractical and not necessary if you design the OLPC right. Teachers do use the OLPC wonderfully, and parents can too -- in fact the interactive, cooperative social tools that are built in to the OLPC ensures that parents can have lots of fun with the children and that teachers can seamlessly interface with the children -- but most parents don't know anything about computers, and most teachers don't either. That is true in the US as well. Here's what some teachers are saying about the OLPC after using it in their classrooms:

What teachers are saying

“Before the laptop, the focus of the school curriculum and evaluation was to show what students don't know. Now, the focus is in what the student knows, and how this knowledge can be used as a support so they learn even more.”

“With the laptop we can say that our school is really elevated because the children are really learning more... They see themselves discovering things that they have never been doing before.”

“The bringing of the laptop into the school has brought a transformation into the school... It has brought another idea of how to teach better: now we see that teaching is not more abstract; it's something that pupils can see, and they catch on better.”

“Pupils go even beyond what I can teach in the class. It's a very interesting thing to use. I personally have a better idea about teaching... We discovered that giving them time to discover something and to do it in their own way, they feel more happy and they are so excited in using it that, ‘Yes, I discovered it! Yes, I can get it!! Yes, I can do this on my own!!!’ Teaching is getting more interesting and less stressful.”

I don't think we will see that being said about the Classmate, simply because that isn't what it is for. It's OK for what it is marketed for, but it doesn't attempt even to address the problems that OLPC is addressing. Instead of waiting for that older generation to catch up, the OLPC makes learning available to children *today*, right now, without the need to train the oldsters first, using the natural way all children learn -- by trying things, by interacting with other children and adults, and by experimenting. That is the part that speeds up the process, so it won't be two generations before the children can effectively learn.

Have you ever seen a child with access to a computer for the first time? They usually start banging on the keyboard and experimenting with the mouse, don't they? Fearless. Have you ever tried to teach your dad or grandma how to use a computer? They don't dare touch anything, do they, without permission, because they are afraid of it, afraid they will break it by touching it. Who learns first? If your dad is like mine, he never fully catches on. If I had to wait for him to teach me, well... I love my dad, but I had to teach myself and find other contemporaries to help me. All I know is that experimenting is a wonderful way to learn to use a computer, and I haven't broken one yet. Sometimes you have to reinstall, but that is so easy in Linux -- just keep your home partition and reinstall the rest and you are good to go. It much easier than in Windows, and you don't have to get permission from the Mother Ship either. Say, does the Windows Classmate come with WGA? I can just imagine how well *that* will work. And do you want your kids to be tracked by Microsoft? I'd do marketing on security and privacy, for real, and on upkeep and future costs of upgrading.

Some Other Ideas on How to Help Market OLPC

These are just my ideas, of course, and I have no connection to OLPC, so before you make any moves, it'd be wise to contact them and make sure no one is doing it already. Here's the developers page, and this page explains the software environment, principally Fedora and Python, it looks like. And here's a list of applications already done. In OLPCland, they call applications Activities. I can't wait to try Flipsticks. I wish I'd had that and Cartoon Builder, also on that list, when I was working on my video for the USPTO-Peer2Patent project.

In other words, my idea stems from observing what Intel did. They saw this wonderful idea, knew it would catch on, and so they figured out what to say to blunt its appeal and redirect it to them, and they market that. Why couldn't the community turn that on its back, flip it over or copyleft it, so to speak? All we'd have to do is see what they are pushing and make sure OLPC has it too, on top of all the other wonderful things Classmate doesn't offer. For example, Intel is also marketing Classmate like this:

IA-based, runs on already available content, applications and operating systems with full compatibility to standard PC ecosystem

They mean Windows, of course, although the Classmate can do Linux too. So if someone could prepare a demo that shows how easy it is for kids on OLPC to interface with Window-using folks, I think that would be helpful too. If you have one already, maybe you could do such a video or a review for Groklaw. Or for anywhere.

I'd like to see marketing materials that include information on how once you learn any operating system, you can use pretty much any other, that what children learn with OLPC, with the key to view the source code, is how computers do what they do. That knowledge makes it possible to use any other operating system very easily. I know you know that, but those parents and government representatives trying to decide what to order don't. They probably actually believe that if you don't grow up using Windows, you will be lost when it's time to get a job. I know. It's laughable, but they probably do think that, and from my viewing of Intel's marketing, I'd say that this is an idea they are promoting. So why not just respond effectively, in a way that the parents and government representatives can understand? The simple truth is there is nothing Classmate offers that OLPC can't do, and OLPC offers something beyond that and on top of that.

I'd like to see marketing stressing that the world is switching to Linux in a big way. It's the future. It's obvious to you and me that children learning Linux will be miles ahead of children learning only Windows, as far as comprehension of computing and computer skills go -- indeed look at what OLPC has now, Guido van Robot, which teaches kids how to program. Here's what Guido van Robot offers:

Guido van Robot is a localized minimalistic programming language providing just enough syntax to help students learn the concepts of sequencing, conditional branching, looping and procedural abstraction. Its biggest strength is that it permits this learning in an environment that combines the thrill of problem-solving with instant visual feedback. In short, it is an interactive, introductory programming language that is excellent for learning the basic concepts of programming, applicable in any high-level language. Best of all, it's a whole lot of fun, too!

Anything like that in Classmate? Hardy har. Would kids rather do that or do school activities led by teachers? For that matter, how many teachers can teach what Guido van Robot does? See the point?

If you go through our News Picks, just a list of all the places in the world that governments are switching to Linux would be a useful graphic, I think, for marketing. Let them understand that without this knowledge, the young people will be handicapped in the modern world. I personally believe that the local economies will benefit directly from children learning Linux, because you can build businesses at a very low cost, based on your skills and ingenuity, not how much money you have to invest in infrastructure and software licenses, and without sending your money to a software vendor outside of the local economy. No doubt you can find quotations from experts saying that and marketing materials could include it.

You also have protection from common malware that Windows users so often suffer from, and when I think of those children and all that can happen in a Windows environment, I worry for them and for the Internet. So the marketing should include information on security built in to OLPC and some easy to find statistics on 0wned computers in the wild already. This is a very strong selling point, I think. Here's one article with some statistics, to get you started.

Here's a YouTube demo of the two, and you'll see the difference in the screen size between OLPC and Classmate even if you don't understand Portuguese, but if you see the part showing the specs, I think you'll see how someone could be misled into thinking that they need the Classmate for more power. For example, it lists the Classmate at 900 MHz, OLPC at 500; Classmate storage space at 1 GB, OLPC at 512; memory 256 for Classmate, 128 for OLPC. Those are probably old figures, but can't you see how some might react by assuming that makes the Classmate better? That seems to be the point of that video, actually.

While it's always desirable to have more memory and speed, what some might not know is that Linux doesn't need more power. It runs just fine on much less. And the OLPC project is customized to cut back on power consumption quite deliberately. It's a feature, not a bug.

And here's a question for you: can Classmate run Vista? Ever? Perhaps they are working on that, but surely it can't now, since Microsoft says you need a 1 Ghz processor and a 20 GB hardrive with 15 GBs available just for Home Basic, the lowest version, so already those kids on a Windows Classmate are behind the times, if you think about it. Well, you get the concept. I don't know if anyone is ever going to actually use Vista much. But, when it's time to upgrade, will it be free or will the schools then pay again? Will it be at the special rate then? Did you get that in writing?

For that matter, I'd tell the adults that they can put the OLPC software on their other computers if they have one available and want to, and get even more mileage. Make sure they know.

Here's my list then of marketable ideas:

1. Kids love OLPC. It's designed to please them. They will love to learn using it, and you won't have to beg them to do their homework.

2. Parents and teachers can control what the children can do, because GNU/Linux has tools built in to do that, if desired.

3. Children can learn computers without adults needing to do so first. OLPC even teaches them how to program.

4. There are lesson plans and interactive projects that teachers can use in the classroom with OLPC. But even if there is no school and no teacher, or no competent teachers, your child will learn and keep up with the world anyway, and when it's time to enter the job market, he or she will have marketable skills.

5. There are no hidden, future costs of upgrading.

6. Linux is the future. If your kids don't learn it, they will be at a disadvantage in the market.

7. If they learn Linux, they can use any other operating system.

8. Applications are available that behave a lot like Microsoft Office. There is no meaningful learning curve, and the children will be able to interact with others using Windows.

9. The Firefox browser, included on OLPC, opens up the world of learning to your children.

10. No one tracks your child's activities on an OLPC, and malware is not a problem in GNU/Linux to the same degree it is in Windows, so your children should be safer.

Other Ways to Help

You can participate, as I mentioned, in the Give One Get One offer, which has been extended through December 31. I hope they extend it indefinitely, myself. I'll bet you know some kids that would love to have one, and you'd be teaching them too the joy of giving and sharing with other children in the world. Schools can participate too, not just individuals, by the way. Alabama figured that out already.

You can contribute to translation. Here's the page of the latest OLPC news and the archives, so you can see what others have done and are doing to help. You can subscribe to the OLPC mailing list to keep up to date, so your ideas will mesh well.

But What Dream Can OLPC Market?

The real one -- that your children can have a better life than you do. That they can leap over the boundaries that restrict you, by learning more than you know, even if the schools are underfunded and understaffed and technically backward, even if you have no money to spend on their education, and that after they learn they will show you, too. Is that not every parent's dream? That their child will succeed beyond what the parent ever did?

That is a dream worth marketing. Because it's true.


Some Ideas for Marketing the OLPC | 271 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections Here
Authored by: feldegast on Sunday, November 25 2007 @ 04:32 PM EST
So they can be fixed

My posts are ©2004-2007 and released under the Creative Commons License
Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0
P.J. has permission for commercial use.

[ Reply to This | # ]

OT: Off Topic Here
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, November 25 2007 @ 04:36 PM EST

As usual, check your links.


[ Reply to This | # ]

OT - Off Topic for Non-Anonymous
Authored by: proceng on Sunday, November 25 2007 @ 04:47 PM EST
Please put subject in title

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.John 8:32(King James Version)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Parental Control Mock
Authored by: Stefan Wagner on Sunday, November 25 2007 @ 04:50 PM EST
To generate a pseudo-control will not work in our community, because everything
is open, and so the fact it will not work will be.

Open Source depends on trust, which pays back in the long range.
'Selling' a feature while calling it foolish to insiders in the background would
be a very bad experience to the hocused customers.

It's a complicated process to get a OLPC in germany.
Easy ordering is only possible from the US and Canada?

A lot of OLPC in the wild could raise the interest in the projekt. Ordering from
everywhere should be more easy and not limited to a short time.

don't visit my homepage:

[ Reply to This | # ]

Some Ideas for Marketing the OLPC
Authored by: KJ on Sunday, November 25 2007 @ 05:16 PM EST
Firstly Give One & get One should be available outside of US & Canada.

I was very disappointed that being Australia that I could not directly try this
scheme. Would dearly love to have one as well as donating.

Secondly - it should expand to all markets in all schools.
In Australia a government has just been elected with one of it's policies based
on the premise of providing a computer to each and every school children.

If this was available parents could petition their own schools and provide a
laptop for a developing country too.

[ Reply to This | # ]

step one is to let the world buy it
Authored by: Alan Bell on Sunday, November 25 2007 @ 05:20 PM EST
they don't want to do retail, that is fine (even though they are doing with
G1G1) I tried to buy on through G1G1 and get it shipped to a US address (my
brother-in-law) but that was really really hard. I had to phone through because
the website wouldn't let me. I got an order number but no confirmation and I
think my order has gone. They could sell them to international distributors such
as Amazon. I want three, or maybe four. One each for my kids, plus one for me so
I can write stuff for my kids to use and to share with the world. I really don't
care much about the price. Whatever they retail at, price won't be a factor in
my purchasing decision. If I can't buy one (and buy them for my kids) then I
can't contribute my expertise. I could run the software in a VM but then it
would be just me using it, I would then lack motivation. If my kids had them
then I would be doing interesting stuff with it.

[ Reply to This | # ]

School level deployments
Authored by: Alan Bell on Sunday, November 25 2007 @ 05:28 PM EST
The plan for country sized deployments is great, but they shouldn't forbid
school sized orders. I would love to get my kids school to purchase them for
every child. The school has an interactive whiteboard and teachers laptop in
every classroom, that is about £5,000 a pop ($10,000 or for 20 kids in a class
that is FLPC (five laptops per child)).
It would take a bit of lobbying and politics, but I think the parent teacher
association could buy them for all the kids in the school without much of a
problem if the educational benefits and integration with the curriculum were
Deployments in rich countries with educated and well resourced parents will
provide a lot of benefit to the project as a whole.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Some Ideas for Marketing the OLPC
Authored by: tangomike on Sunday, November 25 2007 @ 05:29 PM EST
When you buy OLPC XO for around $400 you donate one to someone else, and get one
for yourself. When you buy Intel's sub-$400 laptop, you get one for yourself.
How does that help?

I think the above article underestimates the intelligence of the intended market
for XO.

I think that a lot of people will find this ploy by Intel to be smarmy.

I think the people who buy Classmates deserve them.

I think the time spent developing sudo security stuff should be better spent
developing real apps.

Deja moo - I've heard that bull before.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Marketing this requires a different understanding.
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, November 25 2007 @ 05:30 PM EST
The first thing to say is that never giving up hope is the most important thing.
The biggest aim that these companies have is to dissuade you from trying. If
you show any sign of giving up then that is enough that people will be afraid to
join you. Most projects do things wrong and have things seem to go horribly
wrong. Sticking with it (the project) whilst trying to find new ways forward is
crucial. The following, then, is in the spirit of constructive criticism.

From what I've ready about OLPC it seems that Negroponte has been coming to this
from the point of view of "world leaders" and politicians. He's been
talking about "minimum contracts" and large sales. This is
effectively locking him out of the community system. Things work when they have
enthusiastic people behind them who make them work. Such people set an example,
but they are rare. It has to be made possible for anybody anywhere to get the
laptops as long as they can propose a good way to use them. Any group that is
willing to run a school project and can get half the price together should be
funded. This means Negroponte has to look for donations. Laptops have to be
delivered and the system has to be shown working long time.

Quite reasonably, the world leaders will only go for projects they believe will
succeed (that means 70% or greater chance). Right now, they have no practical
way to judge that. Pilot projects and visible results are crucial.

Another thing which would be good is an independent standard. OLPC shows a
useful idea. If you can write down clearly what that idea means (what is
required for a classroom PC) then others will be able to use the requirements to
deliver the same thing. This could mean PCs being made (assembled?) in the
countries where they are needed. It at least means that countries that invest
in OLPC would know how to replace it if it fails. Such a standard would also
clearly show what the benefits of the XO are over competitors.

Finally: what backing does OLPC have from groups like <A
HREF="">Practical Action</A> which
have actual experience delivering technology to developing nations? Getting
their backing would increase my confidence in the project considerably.

Finally; it's time to start thinking political. Political means taking into
account the way that other people think and trying to work out how to work
together with them. It means finding a way around large scale political
blockages. It means being able to identify when corruption is blocking your way
and work out how to get that exposed and rooted out. It's not a dirty word
political is the way civilised people avoid wars and totalitarianism.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Some Ideas for Marketing the OLPC
Authored by: Pirulo on Sunday, November 25 2007 @ 05:32 PM EST
This comes as stream of consciousness rather than a planed post.

1./ Laptops are not essential for basic education (e.g. see Waldorf schools).
Although there's the need of educating fresh generations on Linux and the
freedom it implies.

2./ MS fears new generations will be not afraid of Linux, thus the efforts to
sell at lost another MS "option"

3./ If OLPC are sold to governments, start approaching those who are or can
be Linux friendly, sadly this definition overlaps with countries not subdue to
US policy (e.g. Brazil, China, Germany, Iran, North Korea)

4./ Sell a "civil version", in gray?, (who won't by one for $200?, but
pockets don't allow $400 for the give one program so far, may be buy one
give one tenth?)

5./ Publish schematics and all possible info so it can be copied and used as
a platform for a ton of other things (i.e. robotics, hobbies, etc)
meaning open it more to the community.

6./ Can you make it cheaper?

7./ Can you appeal teachers? -> team-up with (Linux terminal
server project)

8./ Can you bribe corrupt third world country governments?

9./ How long can you "hang in there"? meaning, the idea is great, but
project need to survive like 4-5 years without being assimilated by MS.

10./ Do whatever it takes to "hang in there" without signing
agreements with
intel or MS, (although you did already with Intel, I guess), or engaging in
business malpractice.

11./ Find other projects that may need a myriad of reliable terminals, car
manufactures, armies,

12./ Don't get upset.

13./ Do what you are already doing, ask for help.

[ Reply to This | # ]

OLPC - more users - bigger market -differential equation
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, November 25 2007 @ 05:41 PM EST
OLPC seems to be reluctant to expand into the first world market.

The limited "commercial" edition in US/Canada is a step in the right
direction - but OLPC has to market and sell it's laptop in the same way all over
the world. And this has to happend quickly.

Like a differential equation the current situation of the OLPC project is very
sensitive towards small changes in initial conditions. It may matter greatly for
the project's total outcome if they start an aggressive move to sell the laptop
today or tommorow. Success or failure.

If few people have one, then few programs will be developed - and other
platforms will leap-from the OLPC one. That's a fact.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Some Ideas for Marketing the OLPC
Authored by: Marketer on Sunday, November 25 2007 @ 05:41 PM EST
PJ said "I just learned something about marketing. It's about dreams, not
about reality."

My sig says it too, but differently. By all means sell the dream, but be
prepared to support your claims!

This will take some thought, which I will give it. Results late tomorrow, I

GLENDOWER : I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
HOTSPUR : Why, so can I, or so can any man;
But will they come when you do call for them?
—I Henry IV

[ Reply to This | # ]

Learning an OS?
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, November 25 2007 @ 05:44 PM EST
"I'd like to see marketing materials that include information on how once
you learn any operating system, you can use pretty much any other, that what
children learn with OLPC, with the key to view the source code, is how computers
do what they do."

The average MS Windows 'user' has the OS hidden so all they learn is how to do
specific tasks. Like an autistic child (from personal experience) this works
well with the familiar, but change the interface just a bit too much (XP vs
Vista, Office 2003 vs 2007) then the user is lost.

If the user really learns the OS, then they would understand the filesystem, the
difference between the presentation and application layers, the concepts of
networking etc. and when they have a problem the questions asked become
relevant rather than vague.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Some Ideas for Marketing the OLPC
Authored by: tompoe on Sunday, November 25 2007 @ 05:47 PM EST
Bangladesh might have 68,000 communities. If the shipping costs for OLPCs runs
$1500 for a community, the community could arrange a micro loan through Grameen
Bank. That leaves purchase of the OLPCs. Each community has marketing rights
for their allotment of OLPCs. They could sell those to corporations. Community
One could sell marketing rights that include whatever corporations think this
emerging market needs. Of course, $25 Million would go a long way towards
controlling all of Bangladesh from a marketing perspective, which might be a
starting point for arranging a single contract that covers the entire country.

This is a brief description of a proposal that reached serious consideration for
refurbished computers for an entire country (think community-based computers) in
the Stockholm Challenge Awards (2000). Didn't win, though.

[ Reply to This | # ]

What would be the cost of executing (part of) your plan?
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, November 25 2007 @ 06:19 PM EST
And who will pay for it?

[ Reply to This | # ]

License OLPC to Fisher Price
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, November 25 2007 @ 06:42 PM EST
They will retail it, and Intel deserves that.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Most adults *don't* understand computers
Authored by: whoever57 on Sunday, November 25 2007 @ 07:03 PM EST
The marketing Intel is doing is probably effective with adults who don't quite understand computers themselves.
I believe that MS's monopoly is built on the basis that almost all adults don't understand computers. Most know how to use Windows, but don't really understand computers.

I am convinced that many of the Windows Server deployments are because PHB's think that they understand Windows (and thus think that they can better manage a Windows deployment).

[ Reply to This | # ]

Market to CEOs... Some Ideas for Marketing the OLPC
Authored by: tce on Sunday, November 25 2007 @ 07:29 PM EST
3M sent Post-it notes to the Admins for CEOs. They allowed a new business
expense ("paper clip") to demonstrate for itself its utility.

As MS has demonstrated a willingness to deliver $500,000 "marketing
plan" fees to any decision maker willing to make changes (Nigerian deal vs
mandriva), the trick will be to find principled decision maker / decision

Maybe G1G1 should include a way to put OLPCs into the hands of good country and
corporate givers and people truly interested in a better society.

Bill Clinton and other "C-Level" folk of the charity as investment
community should get one. A hundred well placed OLPCs, like with the early
post-it notes could help create "pull" and foundation support.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Some Ideas for Marketing the OLPC
Authored by: DarkPhoenix on Sunday, November 25 2007 @ 07:47 PM EST
But let's look closely. Look at the pictures, for starters. Look how it looks after you open it. Would you want to use a computer that looks like that? Would a child?

It looks like the kind of toy "computers" that my parents used to buy me in the early 90's, before computers became important enough to spend $1000 on...

What dreams are Intel selling? Here's the Classmate demo showing the parental monitoring/policy control feature. Intel is using that to market the thing. The parents can allegedly force kids to turn off the laptop and control what they can do with it, even in the classroom, even turning off the laptop while the child is in class. Why would a parent ever want to do that? In real life, they never would, I'm thinking. It's the illusion, just knowing that they can, not any reality, being sold.

See, this simply shows a fallacy that continues to float around education circles, especially in North America. I spent a period of time attending University (major in Computer Science, of course), and frequently had to stand next to various other majors in lines. More than once, I found myself standing next to Education majors (people training to be teachers), and listening to them complaining about having to learn about why every student was not the same and could not be handled using one universal method. Unfortunately, the profession pushes on too many the idea that the only way to learn is from one of THEM, and via rote learning...

I note that Intel is offering "training" to teachers, and indeed they'd have to, if they want teachers to understand the tech first and then have them teach the kids afterward. The OLPC skips that step as being impractical and not necessary if you design the OLPC right. Teachers do use the OLPC wonderfully, and parents can too -- in fact the interactive, cooperative social tools that are built in to the OLPC ensures that parents can have lots of fun with the children and that teachers can seamlessly interface with the children -- but most parents don't know anything about computers, and most teachers don't either. That is true in the US as well. Here's what some teachers are saying about the OLPC after using it in their classrooms.

Allow me to toss out a link to Computer Stupidities, and one of the entries therein, which deals with teachers who need to learn other things: Computer Stupidities: Power. You'll have to scroll a little over halfway down (it's the second story with the word "teachers" in it, for those who like to use Find).

The sad truth is, I've personally witnesses teachers who suffer from "we are the only ones who can teach" syndrome. In fact, a huge number of them would rather assume that the students know absolutely nothing and should be treated that way; I've had teachers who've gotten downright vindictive because students knew more about a particular subject than they did (this frequently happened to me personally, because I did, and still do generally, read a lot of books on a lot of different subjects and generally knew at least a little about most of the stuff being taught).

Have you ever tried to teach your dad or grandma how to use a computer? They don't dare touch anything, do they, without permission, because they are afraid of it, afraid they will break it by touching it. Who learns first? If your dad is like mine, he never fully catches on.

We bought our first computer in 1999. By 2000, I was fully familiar with the whole system, inside and out. My brothers could both do some things with it. Neither of my parents would touch it. By the time that changed, I'd been fully trained as a computer scientist, and both of my brothers were able to sit down and do very effective things with the system. The situation we are in now, me and my youngest brother both run Fedora consistently (though he's still somewhat afraid of it, he's at least willing to experiment and learn), my mother has a laptop, which she treats like it's a ticking bomb; if ANYTHING out of the ordinary happens, I'm called immediately to look at it (unfortunately, as those who have read my rants on this particular laptop know, my mother is also subscribing to the "Windows is easy, Linux is hard" school of thought Microsoft likes to push, and my idiot younger brother is attempting to foist that particular opinion on her as he runs that utterly useless Windows Vista), and my father won't touch a computer with a 10 foot pole.

A-based, runs on already available content, applications and operating systems with full compatibility to standard PC ecosystem They mean Windows, of course

Woot, the basic Windows experience! Malware, viruses (sent via browser and email), continuous security hacks, bloat, programs that work for a short period of time and then try to handcuff you into paying, spam, and a serious antivirus requirement!

Anything like that in Classmate? Hardy har.

REAL programming tools? In Windows by default? Haa haa, funny joke.

IIRC, Windows is the first and only platform that does not come with basic programming tools by default. I wonder if Microsoft is hoping to foster the idea that programming is insanely difficult? Okay, GENERAL programming is, but scripting languages are really not that difficult...

Please note that sections in quotes are NOT copied verbatim from articles, but are my interpretations of the articles.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why is this about Linux v MS rather than education?
Authored by: gdt on Sunday, November 25 2007 @ 08:24 PM EST

The OLPC looks like a great many failing development projects.

If you've spent any time at all working on overseas development projects you'll know that the biggest problems are cultural, partly because it is difficult for outsiders to address those. This is such a problem that some aid projects are entirely concerned with cultural matters (a good example would be addressing cultural factors which limit the use of condoms by prostitutes and their clients).

These two products have no reference at all to the cultural circumstances where they are promoted for use. For example, there isn't any thought at all on boy and girl models to ensure that the devices are not monopolised by boys, a major problem with the use of teaching aids in many countries (including the USA, BTW). There is also the continuing failure of teaching aid projects in Indian primary education: teachers see teaching aids as a major challenge to their role; it took the best part of twenty years to get the use of the blackboard widespread. It's difficult to see how an uber teaching aid solves this cultural problem, and OLPC's criticism of India's refusal to purchase the product simply shows OLPC's ignorance of the on-the-ground issues in Indian education.

Now we have a competitor to the OLPC, the Classmate. Sigh. So we get OLPC and Classmate marketing directly at national leadership on non-education criteria, such as enhancing the country's appearance as an "advanced" nation. This is pretty typical but despicable behaviour by donor nations -- corporations using development projects as a means to promote their own agenda, in this case Microsoft's continuing opposition to Linux and Intel's competition with AMD.

The OLPC could be a useful teaching aid. Or not. The answer will not depend much on the technology, but on the care and attention with which it is deployed. It's so disappointing to see so many words addressed to the technological matters and so few to actual development matters.

[ Reply to This | # ]

How does OLPC handle technical support?
Authored by: hardmath on Sunday, November 25 2007 @ 08:26 PM EST

In my thinking Microsoft's technical support (or lack thereof) is the Achilles heel of their push into remote locations. In a disposable retail economy, it's a net plus that stuff breaks down and has to be replaced (from the manufacturer's perspective). But I'm thinking this won't fly in societies that expect more durability from what would be a major purchase.

So, how does Nicholas Negroponte plan to address the support issue? That question and others were raised by Wayan Vota in response to the same WSJ article that grabbed PJ's attention.

regards, hm

"It's a Unix license... it's a Linux license... a Unix license... a Linux license" Chinatown IV: The Two SCO's

[ Reply to This | # ]

Some Ideas for Marketing the OLPC
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, November 25 2007 @ 08:30 PM EST
Is there a "marketing" brochure (in .pdf or similar form) for the

I'd love for most of us to print and take it to whomever may listen.
(teacher/principal/friends, etc)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Some Ideas for Marketing the OLPC
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, November 25 2007 @ 09:37 PM EST
Why does the OLPC have to succeed for the concept to succeed? If Negroponte's
intent is to allow the world's information available to the world's chidren then
his concept is alive and well no matter what piece of plastic wrapped
electronics accomplishes the task.

Besides, I lost my love for his work when he essentially abandoned the United
States, home of a number of urban and rural 3rd world equivalents. If the
dollar's slide in the last year is any indication of where we are headed, than
we may be one's with our hands out.

We can, today, purchase eee from ASUS with various models and selling like
wildfire or so it seems. If you are feeling charitable, buy two eee's and drop
one off at the local boys and girls club or similar.

[ Reply to This | # ]

CMP design bug
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, November 25 2007 @ 11:02 PM EST
The photo in the brochure shows a truly hideous feature, one I remember all too
well from a first-generation diagnostic "portable" used by my former
employer. The closing latch for the case sticks up at the bottom-center of the
keyboard. You'll never teach decent touch-typing skills with that thing poking
up into the students' thumbs. Even hunt-and-peck is hard with that obstruction
blocking the space bar. I wonder: was this ergonomic atrocity caused by
ignorance, cost cutting, or a deliberate decision to make the product
unattractive to customers in "developed" countries?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Clearly, PJ has no children
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, November 25 2007 @ 11:56 PM EST
Bitfrost works from the principle that kids won't be able to remember passwords, so it's taken security one step beyond.
PJ, research "classical education" and "grammar stage". Elementary age children haven't had their logic circuits fully kick in yet. But their memory circuits are on overdrive. They remember tons of stuff - whether it is good for them or not. A parents job is to try and keep mostly useful and edifying stuff filling their rapacious little memories. Hint - get rid of the TV.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Take a hint from trash bag companies
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 26 2007 @ 01:28 AM EST
Wimpy wimpy wimpy vs hefty hefty hefty.

Put them both side by side and just look at how much SMALLER the display is on
the Classmate compared to the OLPC.

That's your marketing tip for today. Keep it short and to the point.

[ Reply to This | # ]

One very bad suggestion
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 26 2007 @ 01:57 AM EST

someone should just write a stupid application that purports to give parents and teachers "control"

An app written purely for marketing purposes won't work in the Free Software world. The rule to remember is, "If it isn't worth doing, it isn't worth doing well." An app that its author believes won't be used, won't be well written. So it will fail every comparison with the corresponding Intel app.

Better to be frank and honest and say: "This is nonsense, so OLPC doesn't provide it."

[ Reply to This | # ]

Try it for Yourself... Now
Authored by: TJ on Monday, November 26 2007 @ 02:29 AM EST

If you want to try out the XO and Sugar, you can do so on pretty much any GNU/Linux PC using the QEMU or KVM PC emulators, and on Apple Mac and Microsoft Windows using VMWare or VirtualBox emulators.

The OLPC web site provides a downloadable disk image and clear instructions on how to get it going in a 4-step process.

See the Emulating the XO/Quick Start page, and don't miss the last comment on the page the sugar fonts will appear very tiny until you set the screen to 200 dpi.

If you prefer VMware or VirtualBox, there are instructions on converting the downloaded disk image on the Emulating the XO page (you will need the qemu-img disk-image tool).

Once Sugar has started don't forget that to get access to the activities menus simply move the cursor to any screen-edge and the frame will pop out.

[ Reply to This | # ]

What is it good for?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 26 2007 @ 04:13 AM EST
I think my opinion will be in the minority here. So shall it be ...

I don't believe in increasing the quality of education by giving children
computers. Not in the developing world, not in the developed world. I believe
quality education comes from quality teachers, not from laptops. You need much
more than computers for a proper education. For example, you need role models -
teachers coming from the same cultural background and who "made it".

Throughout the history great inventions and discoveries have been made with
nothing more than a piece of paper and a pencil, or a wooden stick to do some
drawing in the sand and often even less. It was done by people who got the right
education (listening to the right "master" and at some time outperform
him or her), or were even self taught. People who had no computer at all.

And there are examples in recent history, too. Communist eastern Europe had a
severe lack of computers and other high-tech equipment, but still managed to
educate great mathematicians, physicians and the like. Even the average person
educated during these times is better at mental arithmetic than their same-age
western counterparts.

Quality teachers, end of child labor, proper feeding and health care, a school
house in every town, mandatory school attendance, availability of pencils and
papers could all do more for the education of these children than convincing the
very same governments who neglect all this to buy and distribute a piece of
plastic and sand to the children.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Intel is a member of OLPC
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 26 2007 @ 04:44 AM EST
In an unexpected development, chip giant Intel has joined the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative. The nonprofit project aims to equip children in developing countries with specially designed low-cost notebooks powered by chips from Intel rival AMD...

"Collaboration with Intel means that the maximum number of laptops will reach children", Negroponte [founder of OLPC] agreed in a statement...

There wasn't a single catalyst that led to the agreement; it was more a case of Intel and OLPC "coming to a collective realization that we'd be better working together than working apart," said Walter Bender, OLPC president, software and content.

Infoworld (2007-07-13) - giafly

[ Reply to This | # ]

Reality, dreams and marketting
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 26 2007 @ 05:22 AM EST
I've been involved in a bit of marketting and would make a couple of

1. On the large scale sales, you don't advertise you identify potential
customers and go see them.

2. Figure out what it is you are selling to each potential customer (or group
of). In this case there are a number of things that can be sold:
a. A laptop
b. A childs education
c. A childs future (and their family's future in many cases)
d. The buyer can feel good about themselves (moral superiority)
... and so on.

The different aspects apply differntly to different customer groups. So a group
of computer geeks may focus on the laptop and education issues. An insurance
salesman may focus on the future and feeling good.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Some Ideas for Marketing the OLPC
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 26 2007 @ 05:28 AM EST
Not gonna bite on the "free" vs pay OS. Thats been hashed out since

But ......... bet the eee including pay for software upgrades, if any, would be
cost effective when compared to a 2 year old computer running free OS.

How? Savings in electricity and software management.

[ Reply to This | # ]

"Ripoff of the OLPC"
Authored by: mobrien_12 on Monday, November 26 2007 @ 05:43 AM EST
Well, I read the linked PDF. It doesn't really look that bad. It is not just a Windows machine. They say it uses Linux also, and it takes a storage device with half the capacity for running Linux as opposed to Windows XP.

They don't offer an alternative charging system like the XO's hand crank... that's a problem in my book. They say the batteries will last 4 hours though.

I wouldn't want to run Windows on this, though.

Intel® Mobile Processor ULV 900 MHz, Zero L2 cache, Processor 400 MHz FSB

Fast cpu, fast FSB, but "Zero L2 cache"????

[ Reply to This | # ]

It strikes me as odd...
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 26 2007 @ 05:51 AM EST
...That Americans who are so fearful of what their own children might discover
on the Internet, think it's a good idea to subject children of third world
countries to the same depravity. And what about advertisements? We learn from
an early age that ads are to be taken with a grain of salt, but what about
people who have never been exposed to them? I could easily relate to a third
world parent who believed those machines are the devil's handiwork and regarded
them with the same suspicion as we currently have for Chinese toys. I have to
agree with an earlier poster that this project completely ignores cultural
differences and as a result will probably be banned by many cultures.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The XO Mission Is Great, But . . .
Authored by: Frihet on Monday, November 26 2007 @ 08:08 AM EST
The OLPC's XO mission is great. I know there are ways we can help advance it.
But, there is another dimension to the XO that the laptop's creators are not
seeing (at least publicly).

The XO represents the first steps toward returning control of computers to their
owners. The XO is completely open, even to the BIOS, and application unaware. As
slow and limited as it is, it is an architectural and philosophical earthquake.
That's why Wintel is trying to drown it in its infancy. It's users might
actually learn how the thing works and how to create. They might see the value
and fun in this alternative.

Perhaps we can help by encouraging OLPC to see the value in spinning off a group
to make a non-ed FOSS community supported version of the XO available to the
general public, and to take the underlying architectural ideas to a higher
performance level. The machine sales profits could go right back to the XO to
further the original mission. We can also urge OLPC to make the XO GOGO program
available to the rest of the world right now. The greatest number of creative
FOSS developers and libre computing advocates are not within the litigious
borders of the USA.

Because Microsoft and Intel have already declared war on the XO, there is not
much to lose and much to gain in letting the little computer fly. It is rarely
wise in the long term to appease a tyrant in the short term.


Repeal the Digital Monopoly Conservation Act.
Write your congress folks!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Very telling ommision
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 26 2007 @ 08:11 AM EST
With the exception of the pictures of the laptop in use were one can clearly see
the XP teletubby interface. Microsoft's name and logos are clearly missing in
action. Also, if anyone has seen the holiday CrashBox360 ads on TV there is
also no direct mention of Microsoft as the manufacturer.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Price and selling points
Authored by: cmc on Monday, November 26 2007 @ 09:01 AM EST
OLPC sales are, in my opinion, failing to meet expectations simply because the
units are priced too high. When the initiative was started, it was said that it
would cost $100 per laptop. Now the price is $200 (and that was $200 before the
U.S. dollar started taking a nosedive).

This makes the decision to NOT sell to developed worlds even stupider. Selling
to anyone who wants it will increase demand. Increased demand equals increased
ordering capacity. Increased ordering capacity equals larger discounts from
vendors. So in reality, his refusal to sell to non-third-world people is
probably keeping the laptop at a higher price point.

Yes, I know they're selling it for $400 in the U.S., and one of two you buy is
donated, but let's be honest. How many are they going to sell this way versus
selling one for $200? My guess is they would sell a lot more if they were
selling them at $200, and if they were willing to sell them to more than the
U.S. And then their sales might pick up to where they get better discounts, and
result in a lower cost.

Finally, there have been a number of comments here saying that "we"
need to badmouth the Intel ClassMate. One comment even went so far as to say
that a rhyme or slogan needed to be created to badmouth it so this rhyme/slogan
would appear all over Google. I'm sorry, but isn't this the same group of
people who say that companies need to compete with each other based on product
features and innovation, and specifically to NOT badmouth the competition? I
said it in another comment further up, but I'll repeat it here. Who would you
rather buy a product from -- someone who badmouths their competition, or someone
who points out how and why their product is superior to the competition? And
before anyone says it, the "but they do it, too!" argument doesn't
make you sound any better.

[ Reply to This | # ]

UPDATE: OLPC's reaction (sort of)
Authored by: Winter on Monday, November 26 2007 @ 09:08 AM EST

A reaction to the WSJ article by Mike C. Fletcher is posted on Wayan Vota's (which is NOT and official OLPC site)

OLPC Education Project Should Take an Opportunity to Learn


Some say the sun rises in the east, some say it rises in the west; the truth lies probably somewhere in between.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Sell it to Businesses, let it Trickle down
Authored by: g8orade on Monday, November 26 2007 @ 09:27 AM EST
OLPC needs to expand its thinking beyond educating third world children and look
at its market as being vs. Nokia smart phones or the Kindle, or any other
computing/communications device on the market.

Specifically, how can you conduct commerce with one of these?

How much does any other ruggedized hardware equal to the OLPC cost, no matter
what it's being used for? Is anyone else even close?

How much savings can a business get by buying and deploying these (even at G1G1
pricing) on shop floors and in truck/tractor trailer cabs and factories vs other
ruggedized solutions?

How well does it stack up against Panasonic's Toughbook? How does it compare
with the devices UPS, FedEx, and other small package carriers carry now? Can you
hook up a barcode scanner to it?

How well does the OLPC play with SAP and JD Edwards ERP software that runs in a

I'm a business analyst in the logistics business and I bought into G1G1 (just
one unit) because I want to see what the specialized touch pad can do, what the
bw mode of the screen can do, etc. I'll also see how my 7 year old daughter
likes it, and my sister in law who teaches elementary school reading.

I think the reason it scares the entrenched players because it really does
change the game in terms of functions, form, and 0 OS cost.

[ Reply to This | # ]

One Other Word -- WalMart
Authored by: g8orade on Monday, November 26 2007 @ 09:29 AM EST
This costs the same as the gOS based tower that has no monitor. Imagine if
WalMart bought into this.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Remember the goal:
Authored by: philc on Monday, November 26 2007 @ 09:42 AM EST
put computers into schools where none exist today. Negraponte has a great idea
and he is seeing his idea come to life. Not only through his own efforts but
also by the efforts of large and powerful companies.

From his original idea comes more and more technology for children to learn and
be ready for the 21st centuary. The OLPC will continue to sell and new systems
will also enter the market and sell. The net result is more and more childern
get computers.

The new big companies, Intel and Microsoft, will ultimately have to think out
side the box to really compete with the OLPC.

The side effect for all of us in cheaper, better computers. We all win.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Give One Get One
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 26 2007 @ 10:47 AM EST
I would buy one for my nephew, but they
only accept PayPal, and there is no way
I am letting PayPal anywhere near my Credit
Card or my Bank Acount.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Give One Get One - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 26 2007 @ 11:09 AM EST
Some Ideas for Marketing the OLPC
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 26 2007 @ 11:51 AM EST

[ Reply to This | # ]

Reality Check Time - Is OLPC "Real"
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 26 2007 @ 01:06 PM EST
The children in countries that OLPC is being marketed to - are all the
"decendants" of genocide, ethnic cleansing, slavery, theft of natural
and then perpetual debt.

The perpetual debt, naturally is owed to countries/the wealthy who
perpetuated and then finacially benefited from the genocide, ethnic
cleansing, slavery, and theft of natural resouces. We are talking about
hundreds of trillions of dollars in theft of natural resouces. Remember there
are no statutes of limitations when it comes to murder.

Sorry for being so harsh here. But supplying a "fist full" of dollars
with a
OLPC program to correct, lets say for starters, a hundred trillion
dollar infrastructure deficiency in all these countries - makes one cry.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Don't call it a laptop
Authored by: iabervon on Monday, November 26 2007 @ 01:39 PM EST
I think that the really distinctive aspects of an XO are ways in which it is not
like a laptop, as laptops are normally understood. Its capabilities and
limitations make it a different device with a different usage model, whereas
Intel's device really is a laptop for kids. I bet an effective image would be a
kid, at recess on a bright sunny day, on top of a playground climbing structure,
curled up with an XO reading a children's novel on it while other kids are
running around. That's not something that a kid, or anyone else, would do with a
laptop, because they're too fragile, too power-hungry, not sunlight-visible, and
require too much attention.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Focus on the result, not XO sales.
Authored by: dbc on Monday, November 26 2007 @ 02:41 PM EST
The goal really should not be to sell XO's, it should be to cause XO-like
computers to be sold. Thought of that way, it seems to me the OLPC program is
on its way to roaring success. Now, the competitors may not have it quite right
yet, which only means that OLPC needs to keep focus on building what *is* right,
and telling people why it is right.

Intel has used this strategy in motherbards ever since the Pentium. See, back in
the days of the 486, the chipset and mobo vendors were very slow to enable all
the cool new features of the 486. From Intel's perspective, this was bad. So,
Intel created "rabbits". A rabbit is a motherboard that has all the
leading edge features. The goal of the rabbit has less to do with making money
and getting market penetration than in getting out in front and making all the
competitors chase you where you want the platform to go. Once the market
momentum is headed in the right direction, you can quit making the rabbit and
move on to the next rabbit, ceding the comodity market. The modern motherboard
market has been influence tremendously by Intel's rabbits.

So, the XO is an *excellent* rabbit. The most exiting, disruptive rabbit we
have seen in years. It may be that the folks chasing the rabbit have not yet
quite bought into every aspect that they need to chase. Situation: NORMAL. Keep
everyone's attention focused on where the rabbit should go, and why it should go
there. The chasers will follow.

If the chasers follow, the goal will be served.

Again, XO is a very fine rabbit. Rejoice and redouble efforts to clarify the

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Some Ideas for Marketing the OLPC
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 26 2007 @ 04:26 PM EST
You are deluding yourself. It's embarrassing. But allow me to explain...

I think you are overestimating the number of kids who would benefit from
having access to the source code. You seem to imagine that all kids are
natural techies. This is not the case. Most kids are not interested in such
things. Most kids are not capable of such things. This is a matter of character

far more than one of intelligence.

So, non-techies want something that "just works". Linux does not
"just work"
- one actually NEEDS access to the source code, because one often needs to
do insane things such as editing and compiling code. Only techies are
interested in doing this. Non techies are simply not capable of doing this, and

are probably not sufficiently interested to learn. This applies whether they are

children or adults. Linux, as it stands, is simply not an appropriate choice for

most people. (Not yet. Maybe "soon". But it's already taken far too

Windows is perceived as the standard, so people will choose it until
something comes along that they think is better. Some people think Mac OS X
is better. They think it "just works". But Mac OS X is irrelevant to
discussion until Apple jumps on the OLPC bandwagon.

So, you have to compete with Windows, which is very difficult because to
most people, Windows IS the computer. If you were to start explaining to
those people what an "Operating System" actually is, they would
lose interest.

These are people who don't want any trouble with computers. These people
(most human beings, remember...) are so fearful of computers that their
response to them is dictated mainly by two animalistic responses: 1: Stay
With The Herd - do what everyone else does. 2: Follow King Monkey - do
what the societal alpha-males (powerful rich companies like Microsoft / Intel)
say you should do.

In this case 1 and 2 both say Windows. OLPC doesn't have Windows. So OLPC

Negroponte is chasing a dream of his own. He's trying to sell the dream,
because that's part of his dream too. He's not running a business. What he's
failing to sell is the dream of a techie. It's sad that techies never seem to
understand that non-techies DO NOT CARE about their geeky dreams.

Intel / Microsoft may be selling a dream, but they certainly know how to run a
business. The dream that Intel / Microsoft are selling is the dream of the
ordinary person; the person driven by Sheep/Monkey instincts. The buyers of
this stuff, the ones controlling the cash, are Sheep/Monkey people, and not

That is why people are buying their product instead of the OLPC.

Just my 2 cents...

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Applications like Microsoft Office
Authored by: bap on Monday, November 26 2007 @ 04:35 PM EST
8. Applications are available FOR FREE that behave a lot like Microsoft Office. There is no meaningful learning curve, and the children will be able to interact with others using Windows.
There, fixed it for you.

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Like no other machine in the World
Authored by: Marketer on Monday, November 26 2007 @ 07:10 PM EST
In analyzing the OLPC marketing situation, the first question is “What are we
selling?” OLPC themselves focus on education or its relative, learning. The
mission statement explicitly mentions “learning learning” which I take to mean
learning how to learn, and learning something in the process. So we are not
selling hardware, though it seems to have many remarkable features, nor are we
selling software, though the Sugar interface and application design are unusual
in themselves. The core seems to be what the combination not only permits, but
almost insists on—collaborative, discovery-based learning.

The net benefit seems to be that children will learn more, faster, and perhaps
more completely than they can in more traditional settings, including those
involving conventional laptops. If this is correct, then it is fair to say that
the XO is like no other machine in the World, and this claim can be supported by
facts. And it must be facts, plural, because it is the combination of facts
that is unique. [If compelling case studies are available, so (very) much the
better, but the facts still have a crucial rôle, because we must be prepared to
answer “But why does it work?”]

The net benefit, however, is not necessarily the actual selling proposition. To
get to that we must answer the following: “What does it mean that children
will learn more, faster, and perhaps more completely?” The answer to that will
depend on whom we are addressing. Parents and governmental officials may have
different preferences as to answers. For parents, for example, the answer may
be aspirational (your child will have a better life) or perhaps practical (your
children will be able to support you better when you are old). How to choose?
That depends on the culture and stage of economic development quite as much as
it does on individual personalities. In this regard government officials may be
easier. A better workforce--> more prosperity--> political
stability--> re-election!-->for life! (Those who have actually sold to
governments are invited to point out the incredible naïvté of this formulation.)
It is important to identify the selling proposition for each group of
stakeholders. Parents, sure; national governments, naturally; teachers too, and
local officials as well, and in some cultures religious authorities and other
guardians of tradition and morals. You may be able to add to this list based on
personal experiences. How will OLPC advance their agenda(s)?

I wish I could present a short but complete list of selling propositions. No
such luck. Building them takes time and intimate knowledge of the territory.
I'm happy to provide what help I can to those with that kind of knowledge. For
those who have it, the focal question is “What's in it for me?” for the various
kinds of “me.” And remember to keep it simple.

The second top level question is “How do we get our selling message out?” In
some cases that will be by personal meeting(s), and what do we say we want to
discuss with these folks? And it's back to our selling proposition. In other
cases, communication will be indirect, as when a national official tells the
local officials what policy is. If we know of effective ways to handle this
kind of thing we can offer suggestions, if we're sure they won't backfire, but
it's basically out of our hands. In this potentially indirect channel we may
also find communication to teachers themselves. Here locally adapted materials
from OLPC may be more accepted. It is likely to be a local decision as to
whether advertising is wanted and makes sense. At the end user part of the
chain, word-of-mouth (aka viral marketing) will do whatever it does. If user
(and parent/teacher) experience is good, others will wish for/desire/demand the
same thing.

If we have successfully navigated the sales communication shoals, the next major
issue is distribution. Distribution has three significant components: channels,
physical, and cost. Channels are the chain of types of distributors. Going
through national governments is a channel choice. Going through NGOs, CARE, for
example, is a different channel choice, as is going through local retailers..
Channel choice is a major strategic decision. At the moment OLPC seems focused
on the national government route. Physical distribution is a question of
logistics. Are shipments direct-from-factory FOB the manufacturing location?
Are there warehouses? Where? Are shipments made directly to endpoints from
these warehouses or is there another layer in between? Who handles shipping
between links? Do they provide warehousing services? Order consolidation?
Whatever the choice, there are costs. How might this all be organized to
minimize cost? Does that create problems of timely delivery?

Again, I wish I had good answers, but I don't. It occurs to me, though that
either Amazon or Wal-Mart may have valuable expertise we could draw on. Wish I
knew some folks at either.

Finally, at least for this post, is the question of service. This has been
raised a number of times in several places, with concern or dismay. This is an
area where the F/LOSS community may be of most help. Recall that the XO is mesh
networked. That should make diagnosis and presentation of repair methods
substantially easier than for typical laptops. If medicine can function
remotely, as is beginning to happen, it would seem that something at least as
good could be done with OLPC. A repair wiki might help keep demands on human
help more manageable. The primary difficulty that I see is with language.
Chances are good that the vast majority of users don't speak our language(s).
To deal with this will require bilingual volunteer help. The first place I'd
look would be the local technical university.

Comments or suggestions are welcome.

GLENDOWER : I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
HOTSPUR : Why, so can I, or so can any man;
But will they come when you do call for them?
—I Henry IV

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Hear what Nigerian children and teachers think...
Authored by: TJ on Tuesday, November 27 2007 @ 03:43 AM EST

When the laptop came it opened the eyes of the teachers and the pupils. Most of them are from very rural site, less privileged. Some of them don't even have a television in their house. ... laptop can say that a transformation has taken place because the children on their own, they feel they are now on top of the world.
Mr Olayinka, Galadima Primary School, Nigeria. BBC: Audio slideshow: Laptops for Africa [flash audio slideshow] 3 minutes 11 seconds.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Thanks! - Authored by: Marketer on Tuesday, November 27 2007 @ 10:56 AM EST
Politics 'stifling $100 laptop'
Authored by: TJ on Tuesday, November 27 2007 @ 03:50 AM EST

Having just posted the audio slide-show link they (the BBC) have published an in-depth article too.

Politics 'stifling $100 laptop'

By Jonathan Fildes
Science and technology reporter, BBC News

A lack of "big thinking" by politicians has stifled a scheme to distribute laptops to children in the developing world, a spokesman has said.

Walter Bender of One Laptop per Child (OLPC) said politicians were unwilling to commit because "change equals risk".

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problems with the classmate
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 27 2007 @ 04:56 AM EST
I don't have time check whether someone else has noticed or note, but intel's
gadget has some serious problems for the target market.

Batteries? Battery life?

Screen size is mentioned, but it's not even 800 by 600.

2G flash? What are they going to run on that? M$Paint?

The form looks like a marketing concept for a toy (an unsuccessful one, at
that). I've seen something that looks similar in Toys-r-Us here in Japan.
Parents with money and no interest in what their kids really want or need
might buy these. Kids will use them twice and then they'll gather dust.

I'm wondering about the license conformance on the Linux options, anyone
want to check up on that?


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Authored by: macrorodent on Tuesday, November 27 2007 @ 08:49 AM EST
You're probably thinking of theatrical movies, originally shot at 24 frames per second, that are transmitted in PAL/SECAM countries at 25 fps.

Yes, but isn't it also true that TV series episodes also used to be shot and distributed on film for better "portability" to different analogue TV systems? B5 was an early 1990's production.

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Some Ideas for Marketing the OLPC
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 27 2007 @ 11:13 AM EST
What's the purpose of supplying laptops to third world children? Is it to turn
them all into programmers or to give them tools to network and learn with? If
it's the former, Linux is perfect, but you're mistakenly assuming most kids want
to interface with toys and tools on that level. The number of kids that take
gadgets apart and tinker with electronics are vastly outnumbered by the kids
that, well, just don't care about that.

If it's the latter, any laptop will do, any operating system will do. I used
Windows most of my life and I understand perfectly how it works, how the file
system works, how applications work... because all that information is readily
accessible. Now I use OS X, which is structured completely differently, and yet
I still understand how it works. Do I know how to program? No, because I have no
interest in programming. Has using Windows most of my life held me back in any
meaningful way? No... because I've always been able to do the things I wanted to
do with it. Writing, art, email/browsing/etc... it's all 95% of third world
children need, and if more companies offer something they can get at, we're all
better off.

Very few people will be at any disadvantage for growing up with Windows instead
of Linux. Ask a lawyer or a chef or a filmmaker how much he needs to know about
kernels and runtime environments.

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Before Marketing, Operations
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 27 2007 @ 01:43 PM EST

Looks like OLPC has some operational issues, which would be one way Intel could
make gains.

For example, when one NGO tried to establish a means to order 10K units, OLPC
was not set up to deliver. Sounds almost like dot-com, techie-led startup of the
bubble heydays.

So, I would highly recommend that before anyone jumps on a marketing frenzy,
people need to find out how to help OLPC shore up the supply chain. Or else,
you'll just end up with pie on your face when you sell even greater amounts that
cannot be fulfilled.

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Some thoughts from the Mullah Nasrudin on the OLPC
Authored by: Wesley_Parish on Monday, December 03 2007 @ 04:37 AM EST

The Mullah Nasrudin - Juha in Egypt, Goha in the Gulf, Hoja in Syria-Palestine, Giuffa in Sicilly - once decided to teach a particularly lazy student of his a lesson. He got one of his worst water pots and started filling it. The student saw the water pouring out the bottom and told him about it. The Mullah Nasrudin ignored him and kept pouring. The student again pointed out the water pouring out the bottom, and repeated himself. The Mullah Nasrudin glared at him and intoned solemnly,

"I'm watching to see when it fills up to the top. Then you can have your say."
The student went away, thinking deeply, then came back and said to the Mullah Nasrudin,
"Teach me how to learn."

So, for a start, perhaps we should consider using the trickster - he exists in nearly every culture that I'm aware of.

Secondly - as has been pointed out - we need to take into consideration that cultural mores and customs of the societies we are trying to sell this into. It's not optional.

Thirdly, we might like to consider using some rather unpleasant examples of imperial and colonial paternalism as cautionary tales about the desire for technology without gaining a clear understanding of how it was produced, and the culture/s and environment/s in which the technology was manufactured and developed. "The Trumpet shall Sound" by Peter Worsley and "Road belong Cargo" by Peter Lawrence, illustrate my point about quite well. Yali was mishandled badly by the Australian Administration in Madang - if they had shown him how they had all the supposedly "miraculous" technology - taken him through various factories, etc, and actually had him making some products, he would have understood things much better. But instead, they sold him on the sizzle, and ignored the sausage altogether.

Man does not live on sizzle alone.

So, permitting children to learn how to do new things with the OLPC, is not optional. If they don't understand how it came about, it may be worse than useless.

The Mullah Nasrudin one morning was seen dashing from his village to another in a fearful hurry, wearing nothing at all. When his friends caught up with him later, they asked him why. He replied:

"I was in such a hurry I forgot to get dressed.

I should not need to expand on that.

finagement: The Vampire's veins and Pacific torturers stretching back through his own season. Well, cutting like a child on one of these states of view, I duck

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