The pain of OLPC

The OLPC is an amazing little device. Unfortunately, the altruists who are running the project haven’t gotten far enough, and they’re laying off staff (although they have managed to get 500,000 laptops to the third world).

I admit to being completely baffled by the organization’s model. They practically refuse to sell these machines to the public — a public that really wants them. The only way to get one was to buy one off eBay (overpriced) or to do a give-one, get-one deal at $400.

It’s just bizarre to me that they wouldn’t sell these — think of all the parents who might get these little things for their kids as their first computer; or the people who simply want to experiment and play with a cheap, high-quality open-source device. The decisions by OLPC show an incredible arrogance and ignorance of basic economics.

Hey, OLPC: Get off your high-horse and do something that the business world learned a long time ago: When a customer wants to buy something, LET THEM BUY IT.

Then, maybe, you can get enough funds to actually do what you want to do.