I met one of the OLPC guys at an event recently, I’m reluctant to write this now because the ambitious goals of group really are noble but the guy I met was so incredibly condescending and self-righteous that I found myself disliking the organization because of my interactions with him alone. Having said that, if nothing else this group has served as a catalyst for the broader marketplace in the quest to bring technology to parts of the world that otherwise don’t have the economic resources or infrastructure to support school age children with modern technology.
This WSJ piece is pretty damning of the initial promises that Negroponte made and the ability of his group to follow through on them. I couldn’t help notice that Negroponte gets pretty close to saying at several points “if I didn’t have competition I’d be able to deliver”, which certainly doesn’t help his cause.
But nearly three years later, only about 2,000 students in pilot programs have received computers from the One Laptop project. An order from Uruguay for 100,000 machines appears to be the only solid deal to date with a country, although Mr. Negroponte says he’s on the verge of sealing an order from Peru for 250,000. The first mass-production run, which began this month in China, is for 300,000 laptops, tens of thousands of which are slated to go to U.S. consumers. Mr. Negroponte’s goal of 150 million users by the end of 2008 looks unattainable. [From A Little Laptop With Big Ambitions - WSJ.com]