10$ laptop hope comes from India

May 4, 2007 § 2 Comments

$10 laptop ?After an article where I was writing about the aprox. $7000 compressed air- fuelled car, India is going to make the rest of the world a new surprise especially when you think of all the efforts Nicholas Negroponte put into his OLPC project. Think again about the rumors and discussions about the price that has risen to almost $200 and if India manages to have the 10$ laptop up it will be big news.

So far, the cost of one laptop, after factoring in labor charges, is coming to $47 but the ministry of Human Resources Development feels the price will drop dramatically considering the fact that the demand would be as high as one million laptops.

As far as I am concerned, as much as I’d like to believe this, I still need a few more answers before buying it..

First, if all the OLPC show, being backed up by many countries with well known low-cost fabrication processes, can’t get the laptop under the $130 price (initially planned for $100 ), how is India going to achieve this?

Then, where will the cost-saving come from? All the components still have a price and I am sure it exceeds $60 for the lowest specifications. Unless they have got an Ace in their sleeves and don’t want to share it. I can think of such a cheap computer only if all components will be printed somehow on a sheet of plastic (read this NewScientist article on such a device developed by british scientists). Together with let’s say polymer displays (PLEDs – read this article on the subject, and see the PLED technology explained on Cambridge Display Technology’s website), if manufactured on large scale, it may drop the price to under $50, perhaps $10 as the Indian ministry claims.

Third, I so suspect this is an Intel/Micro$oft reaction to AMD/Linux threat that comes from OLPC possible mass production. I have no other explanation on why did India turn down the OLPC other than a big ego and a helping hand from MS/Intel. If you don’t know or remmember, there’s a history of bad feelings between the Indian government and MIT. Years ago, the two tried to set up an Indian version of MIT’s Media Lab, but the project flop, embarrassing New Delhi and creating MIT repulsion among many in India’s elite toward Negroponte.

As usual, I would be glad to hear your thoughts on the subject, and if you know anything, point some web articles on different possible ways of getting to the $10 laptop.

On a side-note, I want to express my support for the OLPC project and hope this Indian project will merge with it and together they have more chances to provide the developing world a viable mean of education.

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