With donations now averaging about $2 million a day, the non-profit One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project has extended its "Give One, Get One" promotion until December 31, 2007. The promotion allows consumers in the US and Canada to purchase its innovative XO laptop for $199 and then donate one to a child in a developing nation for an additional $200 (for a total cost of $399). This promotion was previously scheduled to end in late November.
"We've experienced an outpouring of support from the public that is truly gratifying and encouraging," says OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte. "Because so many people have asked for more time to participate either individually or in order to organize local and national groups to which they belong, we have decided to extend Give One Get One through the end of this year. During this extended period we will solicit input and transition to a program of giving only at the beginning of 2008. We want as many people as possible to have the opportunity to act upon the giving spirit of the holiday season."
At the current pace, OLPC could move about 500,000 XO laptops by the end of 2007. To date, the organization has already received payment for over 70,000 XOs that will be given to deserving children in developing nations. That's not horrible, but it's certainly a far cry from the lofty goals the OLPC set for itself: The organization had hoped to have 150 million users by the end of 2008. Thus far, OLPC has only received one major sale, from Uruguay, for 100,000 machines. Negroponte says Peru is on the cusp of an order for 250,000 machines, however.
Negroponte chalks up the slow start to higher-than expected costs and unexpected competition. He had hoped to sell the XO for $100, but cannot currently sell it for much less than $200, though the price will fall over time. And Intel and Microsoft both initially tried to scuttle the XO laptop after OLPC turned to hardware and software solutions made by the industry giants' rivals. Since then, both Intel and Microsoft have pledged to support the project and Microsoft is allegedly working on a stripped-down Windows version to run on the XO. (The device currently runs a Linux-based OS.) Intel is selling a rival laptop, the Classmate, which does run Windows.
Still, the XO is solid, and the organization's goals are unassailably altruistic. The question is whether such good intentions can stand up to the business realities of selling computer hardware. If you live in the US or Canada and would like to make a difference, consider participating in the Give One, Get One program or simply donate an XO laptop.