How a little laptop is changing an industry

How a little laptop is changing an industry

Posted Nov 26 2007, 01:32 PM by Kim Peterson

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The Wall Street Journal has an excellent article about Nicholas Negroponte, an MIT professor who is pioneering an ambitious project to produce a $100 laptop that poor countries can buy for their children. It’s a noble effort that would educate children and families as well as connect them to the Internet.

The article details the many challenges Negroponte is facing in his goal to get the laptop to 150 million children. So far, only about 2,000 children have received the computers. Why? Tech giants are worried the laptop will cut into future business opportunities in the developing world, so they’re coming up with competing machines.

Intel last year created the Classmate, which sells for $250 to $300. It’s mainly a competitive strike to keep rival AMD from making inroads into what could potentially be a huge market. Libya originally liked Negroponte’s machine, but it’s begun ordering the Classmate.  And Microsoft has jumped in as well with a $3 version of Windows and Office for developing countries (Negroponte’s laptop doesn’t have Windows).

You can buy Negroponte’s laptop for $400 (more info here). The high price is because for each laptop sold, Negroponte’s group will give one free to a student in a poor country.

The prices for laptop computers were already dropping for U.S. consumers, but Negroponte could speed that decline. In the near future, paying less than $500 for a laptop could be the norm, and not the exception. And maybe a 63-year-old college professor could be the one to thank.

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