Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

The $100 Laptop–Still Not a Bargain?

With all the holiday hubbub, don’t miss this great piece in The Wall Street Journal over the weekend by Steve Stecklow and James Bandler, which chronicles the bumpy road of the much-hyped $100 laptop project, spearheaded by MIT’s Nicholas Negroponte.


Walt Mossberg and I have had Negroponte at two of our D conferences to talk about the effort (pictured above), which is a great idea in concept, although a much more vexing challenge in reality.

Negroponte’s goal in 2005, which turned into a project called “One Laptop Per Child,” was simple and profound: Create a $100 laptop with interactive and connected capabilities to distribute to 150 million of the world’s poorest schoolchildren in developing countries.

Unfortunately, he is likely to fall well short of that goal now, due to unexpected and stiff competition from for-profit tech companies (most specifically the OLPC frozen-out and miffed Intel and Microsoft), too-high pricing for the product and the need for long-term technical support for its users.

“I’m not good at selling laptops,” Mr. Negroponte is quoted in the article as telling colleagues. “I’m good at selling ideas.”

And here’s the video that goes with the Journal story on OLPC:

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work